Thursday, December 2

‘To this day I search for the towers’: New Yorkers gather for the 9/11 anniversary | September 11, 2001


Lower Manhattan woke up early Saturday to a bright blue September sky, strikingly similar to September 11, 2001.

As dawn broke over New York City, thousands of people, including Joe and Jill Biden, former mayors and other political figures, quietly headed to Ground Zero to pay their respects.

As the dignitaries gathered, attention turned to the hundreds of firefighters, law enforcement personnel and families of those who lost loved ones that day. Looking towards where the towers had once stood, some were crying; they were all solemn.

“Like every year, it is painful. I lost friends in the fire department, in the police department, the guys who went to Iraq and Afghanistan, ”said Ken Corrigan, 54, a firefighter who had responded from the Bronx. “To this day I look for those towers. See what heaven is like today, 20 years ago, the same. It scares me. It scares me a lot, ”he said.

Priscella Davis, daughter of fallen Port Authority police officer Clinton Davis Sr, holds her son Jaxson as they view his name during the ceremony.
Priscella Davis, daughter of fallen Port Authority police officer Clinton Davis Sr, holds her son Jaxson as they view his name during the ceremony. Photograph: Michael M Santiago / Getty Images

Corrigan recalled that as they ran to the scene, dispatchers had said that all responding units were heading for a war. “A lot of my guys didn’t understand what that meant. They couldn’t understand what we were getting into. I said, ‘Someone declared war on us.’

Sean O’Malley, a retired firefighter on his way to the memorial to play in a marching band, said simply, “My feelings today are sad.” O’Malley was off duty that day and was called to respond. He was assembling a firefighting team when the towers collapsed.

9/11 anniversary: ​​bell tolls and then silence as New York turns 20 since attacks - video
9/11 anniversary: ​​bell tolls and then silence as New York turns 20 since attacks – video

“It feels like yesterday. It really does. The loss is not minor and the pain is certainly still there. It doesn’t decrease over the years, you can just bear the load a little easier. “

At 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the North Tower, the crowd fell silent. Most were looking up at the sky, where the towers once stood. The silence and sense of respect felt deep, as if people were reliving memories and trying to grasp the meaning.

Abdelalim Abdelbaky, a street vendor who sells gyros and other food south of the monument, said his grandfather had been working on the car on the day of the attack. He said he had kept the cart on the same corner of Liberty Street as a show of respect.

people hold signs with names
Relatives of the victims attend the ceremony at the September 11 memorial. Photography: Chip Somodevilla / UPI / Rex / Shutterstock
men stand in line while one hugs a child
Family members and loved ones of Stuart Todd Meltzer attend the commemoration. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

“He couldn’t believe what he saw. It affected everyone. Muslims, Christians, Jews. Everyone cried that day. He told me, he said that his clients in the towers were good people. I couldn’t believe they were lost, ”Abdelbaky said.

Many commented on the feeling that September 11, despite all the losses and tragedy, had brought people together in a way that subsequent crises, including the pandemic, had not. America had been traumatized in the broadest terms, and shock and pain had been universal.

Sitting on the steps one block from the memorial service, Sarah Routley, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology at the time of the attacks, said she had come from Tampa, Florida, to mark the anniversary.

Members of Jayesh Shah's family rub his name on the September 11 Memorial.
Members of Jayesh Shah’s family rub his name on the September 11 Memorial. Photograph: Mike Segar / EPA

“I went to donate blood that day because we thought there might be survivors who needed help. They said, ‘No, we don’t need your blood. There is no one to give it to. There are no survivors. ‘ The whole idea was amazing. And the dust in the air … we were literally breathing in the people who died. It’s still shocking. “

The September 11 attacks, he added, were later used as a justification for a war and changed the course of history. “For me personally, it made me wonder: what was I doing in life? It was difficult for anyone who did not have a very serious job, to do anything frivolous.

“Today, it is still sad, but I think the world has been resilient in many ways. We can take comfort in the resistance of New Yorkers and Americans in general. “


www.theguardian.com

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