Twenty years after a pair of hijacked airplanes destroyed the World Trade Center towers slaughtering thousands in lower Manhattan, mourners, survivors and others gathered at the spot where the twin towers once stood for remembrance and reflection.
Family members of victims solemnly marched into the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, each carrying a red rose. NYPD bagpipers played on the sidewalk as family members entered.
An honor guard representing New York’s first responders formed and the Young People’s Chorus of New York sang the national anthem.
Bruce Springsteen, a surprise guest, performed an acoustic version of his song, “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” after the names of each person who died at the World Trade Center were read.
Mike Low, who lost his daughter, Sara, on Sept. 11, 2001, spoke after a moment of silence calling the site where the World Trade Center once stood “a quiet place of memory.’
Sara Low was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane that slammed into the North Tower.
“History must be remembered not as numbers and a date but as the faces of ordinary people. People who looked a lot like Sarah,” he said.
“I find … continuing appreciation for all of those who rose to be more than ordinary people. And a father’s pride in his daughter’s selfless act in the last moments of her life, acting with heroic calm to help those in the air and those on the ground. A legacy from Sara that burns like an eternal flame,” he continued.
A litany of former and current officials joined the memorial service.
President Biden, first lady Jill Biden, and former Presidents Obama and Clinton along with their wives were in attendance. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg, former New York Gov. George Pataki also joined the crowd.
Former President George W. Bush is scheduled to speak later Saturday at the Flight 93 memorial service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Former President Trump was expected to visit Ground Zero after the ceremony. He released a statement lambasting Mr. Biden’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Mr. Biden didn’t speak at the event, instead the White House released pre-recorded remarks on Friday night.
This year’s ceremony featured the return of family members reading the names of all 2,977 people killed in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on 9/11.
The tradition was halted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the annual name-reading was replaced with pre-recorded names played over loudspeakers.
A cellist played as the first group of names were read by relatives of Edward J. Pappa and Vladimir Savikin. At the conclusion of the names, Mr. Pappa’s daughter said, “Dad, we miss you every day.”