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The United States of America would today mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with solemn ceremonies as she remembers the thousands that died in the multiple attacks by Al Qaeda.
Heart-wrenching commemorations is expected to unfold at each of the three sites where 19 Al-Qaeda hijackers — mostly from Saudi Arabia — crashed packed airliners.
Africa Today News, New York reports that the memorials come with US troops finally gone from Afghanistan, but national discord — and for President Joe Biden, political peril — are overshadowing any sense of closure.
At New York’s Ground Zero, where two pools of water now stand where the Twin Towers used to, relatives will read out the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed, in a four-hour-long service starting at 8:30 am (1230 GMT).
Six moments of silence will be observed, corresponding with the times the two World Trade Center towers were struck, and fell, and the moments the Pentagon was attacked and Flight 93 crashed.
Monica Iken-Murphy, who lost her 37-year-old husband Michael Iken in the World Trade Center, says this will be a ‘heightened’ anniversary for many Americans.
But for her, as for many other survivors, the pain has never wavered.
‘I feel like it just happened,’ she said.
A whole generation has grown up since the morning of September 11, 2001.
In the interim, Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden has been hunted down and killed.
A towering new sky scraper has risen over Manhattan, replacing the Twin Towers. And less than two weeks ago, the last US soldiers flew from Kabul airport, ending the so-called ‘forever war.’
But the Taliban who once sheltered bin Laden are back ruling Afghanistan, the mighty US military humiliated.
In Guantanamo Bay, accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men continue to await trial, nine years after charges were filed.
Even the full story of how the attack came to happen remains secret. Only last week did Biden order the release of classified documents from the FBI investigation over the next six months.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will stop at each of these places on Saturday to “honour and memorialize the lives lost,” the White House said.
The president had planned for this to be a pivotal day in his nearly eight-month-old presidency.
However, instead of presiding over a moment of unity, Biden will traverse a country angry about the messy Kabul evacuation, which included 13 US soldiers killed by a suicide bomber, and stung by the broader realization of failure and defeat.
For the relatives of victims, the anniversary, as always, is about keeping the memory of their loved ones alive.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK