US marks 9/11 with somber tributes, new monument to victims

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Audience members attend the September 11th Flight 93 Memorial Service, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Shanksville, Pa. President Donald Trump is marking 17 years since the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil by visiting the Pennsylvania field that became a Sept. 11 memorial. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

New York (AP) — Americans were commemorating 9/11 with somber tributes, volunteer projects and a new monument to victims Tuesday, after a year when two attacks demonstrated the enduring threat of terrorism in the nation’s biggest city.

Margie Miller was among the thousands of 9/11 victims’ relatives, survivors, rescuers and others who gathered on a misty Tuesday morning at the memorial plaza where the World Trade Center’s twin towers once stood. She came to the site from her home in suburban Baldwin, as she does 10 or so times a year, to remember her husband, Joel Miller. Only a few fragments of his remains were recovered.

FILE – In this June 7, 2018 file photo, the World Trade Center site is seen from an upper floor of 3 World Trade Center in New York. The annual 9/11 commemorations are by now familiar rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But each year at ground zero, victims’ relatives infuse the ceremony with personal messages of remembrance, concern and inspiration. And there building continues. A subway station destroyed on 9/11 finally reopened, as did the doors at the 80-story 3 World Trade Center, one of several rebuilt office towers that have been constructed or planned at the site. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, FIle)

“To me, he is here. This is my holy place,” his widow said before the ceremony began a moment of silence and tolling bells at 8:46 a.m., the time when the trade center was hit by the first of two terrorist-piloted planes. Victims’ relatives who had brought signs bearing photos of their loved ones wordlessly held them high.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence headed to the two other places where hijacked planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, in the deadliest terror attack on American soil.

The president and first lady Melania Trump flew to Pennsylvania to join an observance at the Sept. 11 memorial in a field near Shanksville, where a new “Tower of Voices” was dedicated Saturday. Pence is attending a ceremony at the Pentagon. Trump, a Republican and native New Yorker, took the occasion of last year’s anniversary to issue a stern warning to extremists that “America cannot be intimidated.”

Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks on 9/11, when international terrorism hit home in a way it previously hadn’t for many Americans. Sept. 11 still shapes American policy, politics and everyday experiences in places from airports to office buildings, even if it’s less of a constant presence in the public consciousness after 17 years.

A stark reminder came not long after last year’s anniversary: A truck mowed down people, killing eight, on a bike path within a few blocks of the World Trade Center on Halloween.

A member of the military walks the grounds of the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial before the start of the September 11th Pentagon Memorial Observance at the Pentagon on the 17th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In December, a would-be suicide bomber set off a pipe bomb in a subway passageway near Times Square, authorities said. They said suspects in both attacks were inspired by the Islamic State extremist group.

The recent attacks in New York, as well as terror attacks elsewhere, were on Miller’s mind as she arrived Tuesday.

“You don’t want to live in fear, but it’s very real,” she said.

Debra Sinodinos, who lost her firefighter cousin Peter Carroll and works near the trade center, said she tries not to let the recent attacks unnerve her.

FILE – In this Sept. 9, 2018 file photo, people attending the dedication stand around the 93-foot tall Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., where the tower contains 40 wind chimes representing the 40 people that perished in the crash of Flight 93 in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Thousands of victims’ relatives, survivors, rescuers and others are expected at Tuesday’s Sept 11 Anniversary ceremony at the World Trade Center. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to join an observance at the new Shanksville, tower honoring victims, and Vice President Mike Pence is attending a ceremony at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool, File)

“You have to move on,” she said as she headed into the anniversary ceremony with her extended family. “Otherwise, you’d live in fear.”

The 9/11 commemorations are by now familiar rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But each year at ground zero, victims’ relatives infuse the ceremony with personal messages of remembrance, inspiration and concern.

For Nicholas Haros Jr., that concern is officials who make comparisons to 9/11 or invoke it for political purposes.

“Stop. Stop,” pleaded Haros, who lost his 76-year-old mother, Frances. “Please stop using the bones and ashes of our loved ones as props in your political theater. Their lives, sacrifices and deaths are worth so much more. Let’s not trivialize them.”

A New York City firefighter stands at attention in front of a memorial on the side of a firehouse adjacent to One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial site during ceremonies on the anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

This year’s anniversary comes as a heated midterm election cycle kicks into high gear. But there have long been some efforts to separate the solemn anniversary from politics.

The group 9/11 Day, which promotes volunteering on an anniversary that was declared a national day of service in 2009, routinely asks candidates not to campaign or run political ads for the day. Organizers of the ground zero ceremony allow politicians to attend, but they’ve been barred since 2011 from reading names or delivering remarks.

The names are read by victims’ loved ones, some of them not yet born when the attacks happened.

“Even though I never met you, I’ll never forget you,” Isabella Del Corral said of her grandfather, Joseph Piskadlo.

Hours after the ceremony, two powerful light beams will soar into the night sky from lower Manhattan in the annual “Tribute in Light.”

A woman weeps by herself as she leans against a tree during a ceremony marking the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, at the World Trade Center in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Memorials to 9/11 continue to grow at Shanksville, where the Tower of Voices will eventually include a wind chime for each of the 40 people killed there, and ground zero, where work is to begin soon on a pathway honoring rescue and recovery workers.

It will serve as a way to honor those who became sick or died from exposure to toxins released when the Trade Center’s twin towers collapsed. Researchers have documented elevated rates of respiratory ailments, post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses among people who spent time in the rubble.

About 38,500 people have applied to a compensation fund, and over $3.9 billion in claims have been approved.

La-Shawn Clark, left, and Mark Cannizzaro read names of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks during a ceremony marking the 17th anniversary on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in New York. Clark lost her husband, Benjamin Clark, and Cannizzaro lost his cousin, Brian Cannizzaro. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Meanwhile, rebuilding continues. A subway station destroyed on 9/11 finally reopened Saturday. In June, doors opened at the 80-story 3 World Trade Center, one of several rebuilt office towers that have been constructed or planned at the site. A performing arts center is rising.

However, work was suspended in December on replacing a Greek Orthodox church crushed in the attacks; the project hit financial problems.

Associated Press writers Stephen Groves and Karen Matthews contributed to this report.

People hold up photo memorials during a ceremony marking the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A man looks at the North Pool at the World Trade Center during a ceremony marking the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in New York. In the background is the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A woman arrives with a sign bearing photo memories for Wilder Gomez at the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in New York. Gomez, from Colombia, was a bartender at Windows on the World on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center when it was attacked. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)