NEW YORK – Americans marked the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on Tuesday with ceremonies at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York and at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., with participants citing how the tragedy united the country.
The service at the World Trade Center included a minute of silence at 8:46 a.m., which was when the first hijacked airplane crashed into the center's North Tower, and several other remembrances that marked the collapse of the buildings.
The traditional Reading of the Names followed, where volunteers, young and old, read out the names in alphabetical order of the close-to 3,000 people who lost their lives on 9/11. About a thousand or so were at attendance.
"I feel much more relaxed," said Jane Pollicino, who was at the Tuesday ceremony to remember her husband who was killed at the WTC more than a decade ago. "After the ninth anniversary, that next day, you started building up to the 10th year. This feels a lot different, in that regard. It's another anniversary that we can commemorate in a calmer way, without that 10-year pressure."
President Barack Obama and his GOP rival for the presidential seat Mitt Romney both largely suspended politics to focus on the solemn day, with Obama and his wife Michelle observing a minute of silence at the White House, before the president was scheduled to attend the Pentagon memorial, The Associated Press reported.
"The true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division," Obama said at the Pentagon."It will be a safer world, a stronger nation, and a people more united than ever before."
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, was scheduled to attend the National Guard Association convention in Reno, Nev.
"Those who would attack us should know that we are united," Romney said in a statement. "Eleven years ago, evil descended upon our country, taking thousands of lives in an unspeakable attack against innocents. America will never forget those who perished. America will never stop caring for the loved ones they left behind. And America shall remain ever vigilant against those who would do us harm."
One of the most memorable stories of the 9/11 tragedy remains the account of David G. Nadeau, a paid-on-call firefighter for Monroe Township Fire Department, who assisted with relief efforts at Ground Zero for a week, starting a day after the tragedy.
His "One of a Thousand Stories to Tell" recounts how he found a business card of a man who died in one of the towers while he was searching for survivors amid the rubble. The card eventually lead him to the family of the deceased man, giving them some comfort.
"Nobody will ever know how that business card survived from the 104th floor of the south tower for me to find it among all the debris, but I am glad that I was the one that did. In April 2002, I met the man's wife and family members at a restaurant called Park Avenue Country Club in New York. They showed me what true American's do when something so tragic happens. They hugged me, and cried with me, and told me so many people were touched by my letter. Then they showed me pictures of a loving father, husband, brother and family member. These were pictures just like ones I have of my sons and my family," Nadeau recalled.