US marks 15th anniversary of Sept 11 terrorist attacks

Candles in memory of the passengers and crew of Flight 93 are lit along the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Sept. 10, 2016, as the nation marks the 15th anniversary attacks. PHOTO: AP

The United States has marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, when al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four planes and flew them into the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, while one crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

President Barack Obama observed a moment of silence at the White House Sunday at 8:46 a.m., when the first of the four hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Centre, before speaking at a ceremony at the Pentagon, the U.S. military headquarters, honouring those killed in the attacks.

“We remember and we will never forget the nearly 3,000 beautiful lives taken from us so cruelly,” Obama said. “We wonder how their lives might have unfolded, how their dreams might have taken shape.”

VOA reported that He (Obama) vowed that terrorists “will never be able to defeat a nation as great and as strong as America,” praising the country’s diverse ethnic population comprised of people of all races and religions as “one of our greatest strengths.”

Obama, commemorating the September 11, 2001 attacks for the last time as president before leaving office in January, said: “This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to.”

Victims killed in the attack on the World Trade Centre were remembered in New York, where the country’s leading 2016 presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, paid their respects at Ground Zero but halted their political campaigns for the day.

As they have been in past 9/11 commemorations in New York, the names of the 2,983 killed that horrifying day were read slowly by their relatives as music played in the background. As daylight ends Sunday in New York, spotlights will project two giant beams of light into the sky to represent the fallen twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

“Fifteen years ago, a September day that began like any other became one of the darkest in our nation’s history,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly address.

The president said those killed were “from all walks of life, all races and religions, all colours and creeds, from across America and around the world.” It was the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbour was bombed in 1941 at the start of World War II.