From The New York Times (source link): “A new building stands where the towers fell. A museum dedicated to the death and destruction that day is now open to the public. And 13 years after thousands of people died in the deadliest terrorist attack in American history, the ceremonies to memorialize them once again played out across the country on Thursday morning.
But this year, as families of the victims gathered in Lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon and at a field in Pennsylvania, it was not the work that has been finished but what lies ahead that was shadowing the solemn day.
Even as two blue streams of light pierced the New York City skyline Wednesday night, President Obama was laying out his case for a stepped up military campaign to defeat a terrorist organization bent on causing more destruction.
“We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm,” Mr. Obama said. “That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today.”
At 8:46 a.m. Thursday, the time the first plane struck the north tower on Sept. 11, 2001, there was a moment of silence. In Washington, Mr. Obama, joined by his wife and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., stood on the White House lawn, heads bowed.
At 9:03, a second pause was observed for the moment a plane hit the south tower. There were four more moments of silence interrupting the annual reading of the names of those who had died at the World Trade Center — for when each tower fell and for the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 into a field in Pennsylvania, which killed all 40 passengers and crew members.
At the Pentagon, the Navy Brass Quartet played the national anthem as President Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, turned to face a massive American flag that hung on the rebuilt wall of the Pentagon.
Mr. Obama began his remarks with Scripture and remembrances after laying a wreath at the site where the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the United States Department of Defense on the western side of the building, killing 184 people.
“Thirteen years since the peace of an American morning was broken,” he said, speaking to family members of victims and a few survivors. “Thirteen years of moments they would have shared with us.”
But he also chose to look forward, and added some positive remarks, despite the solemnness of the occasion. “There are now teenagers, young adults, who were born after 9/11. It’s remarkable,” he said. “Generations from now, no matter the trial, no matter the challenge, America will always be America.”
In New York, families gathered in Lower Manhattan to read aloud the names of all those killed when the towers fell.
Danielle Kousoulis was on the 104th floor of the north tower when the first plane hit. She was 29 years old, and would have turned 30 a few weeks after the attacks.
Her parents, Zoe and George, said that while time had not healed the wounds of that day, they had figured out how to live with the pain.
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But they do not know how to feel about America once again stepping up its military fight against a band of extremists.
“We do have to somehow retaliate if people do these things to us, because what ISIS does, that can affect us here,” Ms. Kousoulis said. But, she added: “You’d think people would learn to be more tolerant. I can’t understand how there can be so much hate. I don’t know why we can’t have world peace.”
Jordan Thompson, 17, from the Bronx, said that he decided to join the Marines because of what happened on Sept. 11.
His uncle, Leon Bernard Hayward, worked for the parks department and spent weeks clearing rubble and searching for remains at ground zero. He died five years after the attacks as a result of medical complications from the dust and chemicals he was exposed to, Mr. Thompson said.
“Because of my uncle and what happened here, I want to go help people,” he said. “I don’t like to see the weak abused.”
He said he could not believe that the United States was still involved in war in the Middle East, trying to defeat similar forces to those responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11.
“I want to go over there to try to be a big part of the cause and help people in that region,” he said. “Americans died for us to live and be free and died trying to protect those who needed protection. I hope everyone can remember that.”
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