U.S. marks 22nd anniversary of 9/11 attacks

The United States on Monday marked the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with memorial ceremonies held at various locations from ground zero in New York and the Defense Department in a Washington suburb to a military base in Alaska.

People who lost family members in the terrorist attacks took turns reading out the names of the victims during the annual ceremony at the site in lower Manhattan where the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed after being hit by hijacked airplanes.

“The pain don’t go away,” said Dorotea Angilletta, a 69-year-old retired dressmaker. She lost her daughter Laura Angilletta, who was 23 at the time and worked in an office above the 100th floor of Tower 1.

“We love her, we miss her…Twenty-two years have passed, but for us it is the same,” she said.

Kazusada Sumiyama, an 86-year-old man from Tokyo whose son Yoichi Sugiyama was a bank employee killed at age 34 in the attacks, also attended the event for the first time in four years. He is known as the author of a full Japanese translation of the U.S. official report on the incidents.

“I couldn’t come to the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I had long thought I must go again to the place where my son died,” Sumiyama said.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists from the Islamist extremist group al-Qaida hijacked four commercial airplanes, deliberately crashing two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center complex and a third into the Pentagon in Virginia, near the U.S. capital. A fourth plane crashed in an empty field in Pennsylvania.

The attacks led Washington to launch a war in Afghanistan against the al-Qaida organization and the Taliban regime of the time, which harbored the group. The United States pulled out of Afghanistan in 2021 and the Taliban returned to power.

President Joe Biden, returning from his trip to India and Vietnam, attended a ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, delivering remarks to more than 1,000 service members, first responders and their families.

“I join you on this solemn day to renew our sacred vow. Never forget. Never forget. We never forget,” said Biden, who departed from the tradition of the president delivering a Sept. 11 speech in Washington or New York.

Touching on his attendance at the Group of 20 summit in India and visit to Vietnam to hold high-level meetings, he said, they were vital to “ensure the United States is flanked by the broadest array of allies and partners who will stand with us to deter any threat to our security to build a world that is safer for all of our children.”

While underscoring the importance of cherishing democracy regardless of political beliefs, he pledged to defend the United States from any form of terrorist attack.

“We are going to continue to track terrorist attacks in all forms wherever it may be. We are going to continue to disrupt terrorist activity wherever we may find it,” he said. “I’ll never hesitate to do what is necessary.”

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga