NEW YORK – To the solemn lament of tolling bells and the mournful recitation of names of the fallen, Americans on Wednesday paused to commemorate the moment of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Memorial events unfolded at the site of the former World Trade Center, the White House, thePentagon and near Shanksville, Pa., as the nation reflected on the 12th anniversary of the attacks by airliners commandeered by Al Qaeda that killed nearly 3,000 people.
As in past years, the ceremony at the site of the former Twin Towers began with a moment of silence and the ringing of a bell to mark the instant when the first jet hit the South Tower at 8:46 a.m. local time. Relatives of those killed then began the slow reading of names, a somber process punctuated by moments of silence and bell-ringing to mark the crashes of jets into the North Tower, the Pentagon and a rural field in Pennsylvania, as well as the collapse of each Trade Center tower.
Here is a statement from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, on the attacks that happened 12 years ago.
Promptly at 8:46 a.m. in Washington, President Obama, joined by the First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, along with members of the White House staff, walked out to the South Lawn. The president later went to the Pentagon, where a jetliner struck at 9:37 a.m.
“We pray for the memory of all those taken from us — nearly 3,000 innocent souls,” Obama said at the Pentagon.
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“Like all Americans, I will never forget where I was twelve years ago and the way our nation responded in the face of great tragedy. On that day, no matter our differences, our region, race, religion, or political party – we were all one thing: Americans.
“Today we not only honor the service and lives of the thousands of heroes who perished that day, and in the decade since, but we also reflect on the shared selflessness and dedication to the common good that was born out of that difficult time. On that September morning we all came to understand how fragile life can be and then immediately lined up to donate our time, money, and even our blood to help strangers.
“So as we mark this somber occasion, I encourage all Americans to find a way to channel that sense of community on this National Day of Service and Remembrance by giving back to those in need. Let’s recommit to making our nation a better place for our children and let the examples of these men and women always inspire and guide us.”