U.S. Marks 9/11 with Somber Tributes, New Monument to Victims, But St. Nicholas Shrine Still Not Open

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.(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, Pool, File)

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

Thousands of 9/11 victims’ relatives, survivors, rescuers and others are expected at Tuesday’s anniversary ceremony at the World Trade Center, while President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will head 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 plan to join an observance at the Sept. 11 memorial in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 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.

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.

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. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, FIle)

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, concern and inspiration.

“What I can say today is that I don’t live my life in complacency,” Debra Epps said last year as she remembered her brother, Christopher Epps. “I stand in solidarity that this world will make a change for the better.”

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

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.

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.

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.


St. Nicholas church NY. (Photo by TNH/Kostas Bej)

1 Comment

  1. On 9/11/2018 I went downtown to Ground Zero thinking that I could see the annual memorial tribute live!
    Only family members and invited guests of the deceased are allowed within and close to the memorial park.
    However, I did come upon our St. Nicholas Church, which I took pictures of thinking it would be bigger and more grandios! Unfortunately it looked like an empty shell, reminding me of the many unfinished projects in Greece that I remember as standing there the same two years ago, On Tuesday tourists and other people were taking pictures of all the beautiful completed buildings, feeling sadly that if ours were completed, these people would be taking pictures of our stunning, inspirational shrine! I understand that our archdiocese wanted the best collaborators and hired companies for our St. Nicholas, but why hire one of the most expensive architects in the world, where New York has the brightest and the best architects and engineers, and many of them being Greeks! this is what i said in a previous comment i had made, and the word is “spatala”, and no control. I really don’t know what the next step is going to be in order for this project to be completed. Will parishioners trust to re donate again?? I only wish i knew the answer!

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