/ 11 September 2009

New Yorkers commemorate 9/11 at Ground Zero

Bagpipes and drums sounded across Ground Zero on Friday in New York as the city commemorated the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre.

The melancholy music mingled with rain as the crowd of mourners, police, firefighters, servicemen and officials, including Vice-President Joseph Biden, gathered for the annual ceremony.

The impact of two hijacked airliners and collapse of the Twin Towers killed 2 752 people on September 11 2001.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the day should also be remembered for the many who volunteered to help in the aftermath of the attack, including the 343 firefighters who died in the collapsing Twin Towers.

“Their compassion and selfless acts are etched in our city’s history,” Bloomberg said.

As every year, relatives of the dead and other volunteers took turns to read out the names of all the dead in a ritual carried live on local television.

Moments of silence were observed at the exact times the two planes struck and the towers fell down. Powerful lights were to send two beams skyward from the site at nightfall.

President Barack Obama, spending the day in Washington, wrote in a letter published on the front page of the New York Daily News that “we are all New Yorkers”.

The attacks “will be forever seared in the consciousness of our nation”, he wrote.

“We will never forget the images of planes vanishing into buildings; of billowing smoke rolling down the streets of Manhattan; of photos hung by the families of the missing,” Obama wrote.

“We will never forget the rage and aching sadness we felt. And we will never forget the feeling that we had lost something else: a sense of safety as we went about our daily lives.” — AFP