In somber remembrances from New York City to Shanksville, Pa., from the White House to cities around the nation, America paused once again Friday to mark the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
The largest ceremony took place at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum near the site of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, which were brought down when two hijacked passenger jets slammed into them that day. Families of the victims gathered at the memorial’s plaza and marked the day with the tolling of bells, moments of silence, and the sad reading of the names of those who died.
“We come every year. The crowds get smaller, but we want to be here. As long as I’m breathing, I’ll be here,” said Tom Acquaviva, 81 whose son Paul Acquaviva, a systems analyst, perished in the trade center’s north tower.
Nereida Valle, who lost her daughter, Nereida De Jesus, said: “It’s the same as if it was yesterday. I feel her every day.”
The plaza was reserved for victims’ relatives and invited guests for the ceremony, but was opened in the afternoon for the public to pay their respects. An estimated 20,000 people flocked to the site last year, the first year the public was able to visit on the anniversary.
The Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville in western Pennsylvania is marking the completion of its visitor center, which opened to the public Thursday. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and other officials joined in remembrances for victims’ relatives and Pentagon employees.
President Obama observed a moment of silence with the first lady and White House staff on the mansion’s South Lawn. He then planned to visit Fort Meade in Maryland, in recognition of the military’s work to protect the country.
The presidential observance began at 8:46 a.m. when the first plane slammed into the trade center’s North tower. The second plane hit the South tower at 9:03 a.m.
Later Obama sent out a tweet that said, “14 years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we honor those we lost. We salute all who serve to keep us safe. We stand as strong as ever.”
Ohio’s statehouse displayed 2,977 flags — representing the lives lost — in an arrangement designed to represent the World Trade Center towers, with a Pentagon-shaped space and an open strip representing the field near Shanksville. Sacramento, Calif., planned a 9/11 commemoration in conjunction with a parade honoring three Sacramento-area friends who tackled a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound high-speed train last month.
Major League Baseball will pay its own tribute to mark the anniversary of the attacks. At every stadium where a big league game is played Friday, there will be moments of silence, as well as other remembrances. Players, managers, coaches and umpires will wear caps with flag patches.
Two tunnels in Idaho Springs, Colorado, were renamed the Veterans Memorial Tunnels, and a cross-shaped steel sculpture taken from the rubble of the World Trade Center went on display at Dallas Love Field airport.
A steel beam from the trade center went on display following a dedication ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center.
In Washington, some members of Congress spent part of the anniversary discussing federal funding for the ground zero memorial. The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing Friday morning on a proposal to provide up to $25 million a year for the plaza.
The memorial and underground museum together cost $60 million a year to run. The federal government contributed heavily to building the institution; leaders have tried unsuccessfully for years to get Washington to chip in for annual costs, as well.
Under the current proposal, any federal money would go only toward the memorial plaza. An estimated 21 million people have visited it for free since its 2011 opening.
The museum charges up to $24 per ticket, a price that initially sparked some controversy. Still, almost 3.6 million visitors have come since the museum’s May 2014 opening, topping projections by about 5 percent, Daniels said.
Any federal funding could lead to expanded discounts for school and other groups, but there are no plans to lower the regular ticket price, he said.
This year’s anniversary also comes as advocates for 9/11 responders and survivors are pushing Congress to extend two federal programs that promised billions of dollars in compensation and medical care. Both programs are set to expire next year.
Those reading names in New York included Jyothi Shah who was there to remember her slain husband, Jayesh Shantitlal Shah. At the podium Shah paused to send him her love and the public her appreciation.
“My kids and I would like to humbly thank everyone who has helped us, through the last 14 years, to be able to gently go through the sorrows, the suffering, the pain,” she said. “Thank you all very much — the city, the nation, the friends, the family.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.