US remembers Sept. 11
Thousands will gather Tuesday in New York, suburban Washington and rural Pennsylvania to mark the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, but at the somber day’s biggest venue, Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, this year’s observance will be missing a key feature from years past: politicians’ voices.
In a reminder of the global consequences of the attacks, commemorations will also be held abroad. At the Kaia airport in the Afghan capital Kabul, soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force prayed during a memorial ceremony for the Sept. 11 victims.
The United States and its allies launched the invasion of Afghanistan to oust al-Qaida and its Taliban protectors in retaliation for the 2001 attacks. Nearly eleven years later, troops are still, fighting there in what has become America’s longest war.
President Barack Obama has pledged to end the main U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but current plans call for some thousands of U.S. troops to remain long after that to train Afghans and hunt terrorists. Since 2001, more than 2,000 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan.
In previous years, politicians including presidents, state governors and New York City mayors have participated in the reading of the names, or have read from the Bible or recited passages from literature, at commemoration ceremonies in the United States.
This year, only the families of the more than 2,750 who were killed when militant Islamist hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, causing their collapse, will appear on the podium to read their names.
To Charles G. Wolf, it’s a fitting transition.
“We’ve gone past that deep, collective public grief,” says Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, was killed at the trade center. “And the fact that the politicians will not be involved, to me, makes it more intimate, for the families. … That’s the way that it can be now.”