President Joe Biden pays tribute this Saturday to the almost 3,000 fatalities of the attacks that the terrorist organization Al Qaeda perpetrated in the United States on September 11, 2001. He does it with visits to the places that the jihadists made a target: ground zero in New York, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood, against which the first two planes hit; the National Memorial in Shanksville (Pennsylvania), the place where the passage of Flight 93 managed to divert the fourth aircraft, and, finally, to the Pentagon, in Arlington (Virginia), where Vice President Kamala Harris will join the official ceremony.
Biden will not follow the chronological order of the attacks (Manhattan, Arlington and Shanksville), but they will, timed, two moments of silence at the time the four aircraft crashed. The first, at 8.46 in the morning, local time (six hours more in the Peninsula), will be marked by the tolling of the bell of the Saint Paul chapel, which remained standing that Tuesday in September despite being a few meters from the twin towers. On a cool morning, with sunshine as bright as it was 20 years ago before the attacks, Biden will arrive at the 9/11 Memorial with the first lady, Jill Biden, at 8.30, after a flood of family and friends survivors – the majority, members of the rescue teams, in uniform – entered the enclosure.
Respectful of the recollection of loved ones, and with the memory of Afghanistan still too fresh, Biden has declined to make speeches at his appearances, according to the White House. Instead, through a video posted on his Twitter account this Friday, he addressed a brief message to the nation calling for unity and overcoming fear. “” For me, the main lesson of September 11 is that, when we are most vulnerable, in the tug of war that makes us human, in the battle for the soul of the United States, unity is our greatest strength “, said.
Shortly before, he had ordered that the flag be flown today at half mast in all official buildings and asked his compatriots to participate in the commemorative ceremonies that were organized in their respective communities. The president has also wanted to avoid the controversy carried out by a group of 1,800 relatives and friends of victims, who have publicly repudiated his presence and demanded greater transparency in the results of an investigation into the Saudi connection of 9/11.
To the usual solemnity of this type of commemoration – September 11 is celebrated in the US as Patriot’s Day, since 2001, and National Day of Service and Remembrance since 2009 – another dimension is added this year: the withdrawal of troops from America from Afghanistan after twenty years of war. The last formal episode of the string of consequences that unleashed 9/11 was stained with mourning for the death of 13 soldiers in Kabul as a result of a suicide attack, a few days before the departure of the troops. The chaos surrounding the evacuation was a particularly sensitive time for Biden, the target of criticism from the opposition and many fellow Democrats as well.
An impressive police device surrounds the vicinity of Ground Zero in Manhattan, where the 9/11 Memorial stands. Thousands of agents, special explosives detection units and sniffer dogs had been clearly visible for several blocks from the day before. Around the two ponds that flank the commemorative museum -in whose interior the private ceremony will be held, only for relatives, with the reading of the names of the victims-, curious and official delegations, from representatives of the diplomatic corps to pilots associations , they deposited crowns in memory of the dead. The venue will be closed to the public during the ceremony.
Despite the large police deployment, the authorities have reassured the population by stating that such presence does not respond to any threat and only aims to contribute to the safety of those attending the events, and “that there is no incident,” he said this Friday the head of the New York Police Department, Demort Shea. “There is no specific or credible threat against New York City at this time. The New York Police are monitoring, not daily or hourly, but minute by minute, “said the mayor, Bill de Blasio, while adding that the threats are” real and consistent, which is why we must be vigilant. ”. The reinforcement of security has not been limited to ground zero, but has been extended to the entire city, the councilor recalled.
While dozens of operators were removing all the bins in the area, thousands of fences prepared to cut off accesses and kilometer-long traffic jams around ground zero foreshadowed the exceptionalness of the day hours before September 11, while an ambivalent feeling floated in the environment, halfway between the collective commotion and the late splendor of the last days of summer.
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