Uncategorized9/11’s 20th Anniversary: Live Video and Photos from Ground Zero and Shanksville

9/11’s 20th Anniversary: Live Video and Photos from Ground Zero and Shanksville


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Former President George W. Bush and Vice President Kamala Harris will speak at a remembrance for the passengers and crew killed where hijacked Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.CreditCredit…Kristian Thacker for The New York Times

Vice President Kamala Harris and former President George W. Bush are scheduled to speak on Saturday morning at a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pa.

The names of the 40 passengers and crew members will be read aloud beginning at 10:03 a.m., the time of the crash on Sept. 11, 2001. Bells will also toll in remembrance of the victims. The flight crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside after passengers on board fought back against the hijackers, thwarting an attack on Washington.

Deb Haaland, the interior secretary, and Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania are also set to speak at the ceremony. President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, are scheduled to visit the Flight 93 memorial later Saturday for a wreath-laying ceremony.

At this moment 20 years ago, President Bush told Americans in brief remarks: “Terrorism against our nation will not stand.”

“Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning” by the artist Spencer Finch, is on display at the museum.
Credit…Vincent Tullo for The New York Times

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan, the host of this morning’s ceremony, is no stranger to controversy, whether before its 2014 opening or in recent days.

This week, as they have in years past, local Muslim advocates called for the removal of one of the museum’s trustees, Debra Burlingame, calling some of her comments Islamophobic.

“Ms. Burlingame’s long history of making bigoted remarks about Islam and Muslims are simply antithetical to the purpose of the 9/11 Museum,” said Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a large Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.

Ms. Burlingame, whose brother, Charles Burlingame, was killed when the plane he was piloting, American Airlines Flight 77, was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, was an outspoken critic of a onetime plan to build a mosque and cultural center two blocks from ground zero.

On another issue, museum officials recently announced that they were dropping plans for special exhibitions set for this year, after a budget crisis during the coronavirus pandemic contributed to the nonprofit museum furloughing and laying off a large portion of its staff.

Then there was the flap over “The Outsider,” a documentary released this month about the museum that includes scenes showing museum leaders in conflict over the framing of exhibition storylines.

Steven Rosenbaum, who co-directed the film with his wife, Pamela Yoder, said the museum demanded the removal of numerous sensitive scenes it called defamatory, which the couple refused.

Now the couple, who donated to the museum a vast archive of video footage in exchange for broad filming access, wants the footage back because of museum policies that control the usage of its archival materials by historians and scholars, Mr. Rosenbaum said.

A museum spokeswoman had no comment on the controversies and a message left with her for Ms. Burlingame was not returned.

There have been other disputed moves by the museum, including its decision to sell trinkets at its gift shop and hold a cocktail reception for big donors within its hallowed walls.

After a closure in 2020 during the pandemic, the museum’s attendance has remained diminished. It canceled plans for its annual Tribute in Light last year out of social distancing concerns, but quickly reversed course and restored the display after protests.

Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

That Tuesday, the sky was so clear and bright blue as I was sitting in my eighth-grade class. Our teacher, Ms. Graham, asked everyone to sit in place, then stepped out of the classroom.

When Ms. Graham came back, everything changed. As a native New Yorker, and someone who still lives in New York, I think about that day often. I think about how even a small family like mine — it was just my mom, brother, sister and me — living as far away from ground zero as Harlem, was affected by the events of Sept. 11. I think about how most of us who were in the city carry that day — those we have lost and those who managed to return home — close to the surface. For many of us, there is still a hole in our skyline.

The city felt like it had accidentally fallen into a black hole. There was no one who could come help us and no way for a majority of us to get out. Those of us who were here that day, sitting with our eyes glued to newscasts, can still remember how that felt.

Sometimes that feeling seems like a suit of armor that I wear: knowing I am from a city strong enough to overcome the darkest of days, a day when people fell from the sky. But inside that armor, there’s always an itch, a sadness for the girl I was, just 13 years old, experiencing something more monumental than my brain could grasp.

Bruce Springsteen, wearing a suit and strumming an acoustic guitar, performed “I’ll See You in my Dreams,” a song from his 2020 album “Letter to You.”

“This nation is too big, too strong, too united, too much a power in terms of our cohesion and our values to let this break us apart,” Mr. Biden said in a television interview that day. “And it won’t happen.” It is interesting to look back on this assertion 20 years later.

The president is standing with his head bowed as he listens to the list of names. He was a senator when the planes hit the towers. He has said he was commuting from Delaware to Washington and was on the phone with his wife, Jill, when the first plane hit.

At this moment 20 years ago, President Bush was preparing to read a book to elementary school children in Sarasota, Fla., when he was told that a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and that America was under attack.

At this moment 20 years ago, United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center. All on board, along with an unknown number of people in the tower, were killed.

At this moment 20 years ago, officials ordered the evacuation of both towers. One minute later, the order was expanded to include all civilians in the World Trade Center complex.

The reading of the names began with Gordon M. Aamoth Jr., a banker at Sandler O’Neill & Partners. It will continue alphabetically for the next two hours.

Traditionally, the families of victims each year read the names of those killed in the 9/11 attacks. But last year, with the pandemic at the forefront, organizers wanted to avoid gathering, so the list was recorded in advance. This year is a return to form.

Mike Low, the father of a flight attendant on Flight 11, Sara Low, spoke briefly at the start of the ceremony and asked that the anniversary be remembered “not as numbers or a date, but the faces of ordinary people.”

Katie Mascali and her fiancé, Andre Jabban, stood near the name of Mr. Mascali’s father, Joseph Mascali, who was with FDNY Rescue 5.
Credit…Pool photo by Craig Ruttle

On a brilliant, cloudless late-summer morning eerily reminiscent of the fateful one two decades before, the memorial ceremony for those who died on Sept 11, 2001, got underway on the hallowed spot in Lower Manhattan known as ground zero.

At 8:46 a.m., 20 years to the minute after American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, there was a moment of silence, and church bells rang across New York City.

Then, in a broad, tree-lined plaza where reflecting pools have replaced the towers, a slow recitation of 2,983 names — the people killed at the trade center, the Pentagon, aboard Flight 93 in Pennsylvania and in an earlier 1993 bombing at the trade center — began.

President Biden is in attendance with the first lady, Jill Biden. So are former President Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who is now chairman of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

None of the dignitaries are speaking at the ceremony, which is otherwise open only to the families of the victims.

The ceremony consists mostly of the reading of the names, recited by relatives of the dead. But just after 9 a.m., Bruce Springsteen, strumming an acoustic guitar, performed “I’ll See You in my Dreams,” a song from his 2020 album “Letter to You.”

“When all the summers have come to an end,” he sang, “I’ll see you in my dreams. We’ll meet and live and love again.”

At this moment 20 years ago, President George W. Bush was informed that a small plane had hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower. The president and his advisers assumed the crash was a tragic accident.

I try not to think of that day. I witnessed the horror of New Yorkers’ loss — working moms, dads, sons and daughters, friends. I have nightmares; not sleeping well since Sept. 11 has become the norm.

Credit…Ángel Franco/The New York Times

At this moment 20 years ago, American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. All on board, along with an unknown number of people in the tower, were killed.

With minutes to go before the first moment of silence, an honor guard made up of first responders is beating a drum and carrying an American flag toward the 9/11 memorial plaza.

President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, have reached the 9/11 Memorial. They entered with two pairs of their predecessors, Barack and Michelle Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Luis Gonzalez, 41, from Staten Island, stood staring up at the Freedom Tower minutes before the moment when the first plane hit 20 years ago. He brought a poster of the Twin Towers that now hangs in his room. “I come out of respect,” he said.

A view of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Credit…George Etheredge for The New York Times

The architects Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss took to walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Others started bicycling. For a while, a small flotilla, Dunkirk-like, ferried neighbors across the East River, colonizing the waterways as a sixth borough.

After Sept. 11, New Yorkers did what they do — coped, improvised, found one another in public spaces, reimagined the city. Two decades on, Lower Manhattan, still a work in progress, is mostly better than it was. The outcome seemed unlikely for a time. The reconstruction at ground zero was a mess and remains a massive, missed opportunity.

But it may well be the mess, not the memorial or the office towers — half conceived to reignite the economy, half as middle fingers raised to Osama bin Laden — that has ended up being the ultimate retort to Sept. 11 and the emblem of New York’s resilience.

City-building in a fractious democracy is a slow, lurching, multipronged process, after all. The southern tip of what the Lenape called Mannahatta has been contested territory and a civic petri dish since the September morning in 1609 when a community of Lenape watched a Dutch ship, carrying Henry Hudson, sail through the Narrows.

In the wake of another September morning, New York has become less Manhattan-centered since the attack on the twin towers, less a hub with spokes and more multi-nodal, hastening the booms in Brooklyn and Queens. The old model of urban economics, agglomerated vertically in a clutch of downtown skyscrapers, has gradually ceded to a broader vision of mobility, remote access and live-work neighborhoods. After Sept. 11, proponents of walking, cycling, public transit and public space began to find allies on Wall Street and in City Hall, ones who recognized Lower Manhattan’s viability depending on more than a memorial and commercial skyscrapers where the twin towers had stood.

It involved attracting highly educated workers who were increasingly gravitating to lively streets, rejuvenated waterfronts, signature parks, bike lanes and loads of restaurants and entertainment.

“For us and many of our friends who started walking across the bridge,” as Manfredi puts it, “9/11 fundamentally changed how we envisioned the city.”

Among the many people already gathered for the memorial in New York City are Rudy and Abena Roman, a married couple who both worked at ground zero on September 11, 2001, and fled their offices just before the towers collapsed. “It always opens a wound, coming back down here,” Mr. Roman, 49, said.

I was watching NY1 when I saw that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I grabbed my gear and ran to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. My partner pointed to a plane flying over the Statue of Liberty, and I knew what was going to happen: I was going to witness hundreds of people die. I remember thinking, “No, no, no!” But I took a breath and told myself: “This is history. Do your job.” I put the camera to my face, framed the skyline wide, and I waited for the plane to come into my frame.

Credit…Kelly Guenther for The New York Times

The 2017 Muslim Day Parade in New York. The tragedy of Sept. 11 transformed American Muslim life.
Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

When Sylvia Chan-Malik reflects on the aftermath of Sept. 11, she has two starkly different personal memories from the trauma. She recalls the strangers yelling epithets at her and her young daughters on their way to Eid prayers. But she also thinks of her daughters, now teenagers, seeing Hasan Minhaj, the Muslim comedian, at a sold-out theater and reading novels about Muslim girls like themselves.

“It has caused incredible violence and pain and trauma, but it has also created incredible possibility and hope and new forms of community,” Dr. Chan-Malik, associate professor of American studies at Rutgers University, said of Sept. 11. “It absolutely changed everything.”

For 20 years the tragedy of that day has transformed American Muslim life, in deep and conflicting ways. The terrorist attacks unleashed a deluge of anti-Muslim hate and misinformation that persists today. In 2016, Americans elected a president with an anti-Muslim platform, and a surge in violence against American Muslims led a rise in hate crimes against all groups.

Yet the struggle birthed a generation determined to define their place in American life on their own terms, in ways that were unfathomable 20 years ago. Last year Ramy Youssef won a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of a young New Jersey man struggling with his identity. Americans elected Muslims to Congress for the first time, starting with Keith Ellison and André Carson, African American converts, and then Rashida Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, and Ilhan Omar, a refugee from Somalia who successfully challenged the 181-year rule banning headwear in the House chamber.

Islam has been part of the American story since enslaved African Muslims first arrived, but the past 20 years have forced a coming of age with sweeping public awareness, said Zeenat Rahman, executive director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago.

“I’m not sure we’d have gotten here as quickly had it not been for the relentless microscope,” she said. “This is not just about one community. This is about what this one community teaches us about who we are as Americans.”

It is dry and warm with a flawless blue sky, weather that is strangely similar to that fateful morning 20 years ago. Already people have begun to gather outside of the memorial to stare up at the Freedom Tower that has replaced the fallen World Trade Center and to share memories about that horrible morning in 2001.

Credit…Corey Kilgannon for The New York Times

Lower Manhattan seen from the Staten Island Ferry.
Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

The day of the Sept. 11 attacks, N.R. Kleinfield, a former longtime reporter for The Times’ Metro desk, wrote a front-page article that began with a simple chilling sentence: “It kept getting worse.”

The article, a sweeping portrait of all the horror from that day, was filled with dozens of firsthand accounts from witnesses running from the scene. Twenty years later, survivors who spoke to The Times for that article recalled the emotional, physical and mental toll of the years that followed.

“For 10 years, I didn’t think about it and I didn’t talk about it with anyone,” said Tim Lingenfelder, 56, who was working on the 52nd floor of the North Tower.

He still remembers the sharp physical pain of having to walk down 52 flights of stairs, he said, and seeing a body on the roof of the Marriott World Trade Center next door.

He had nightmares and flashbacks for months afterward, he said, and survivor’s guilt ate at him for years. Eventually, in 2004, he moved back home to Minneapolis, Minn., at his friends’ urging.

John Cerqueira, 42, escaped from the 81st floor of the North Tower five minutes before it collapsed. He still vividly recalls looking up as people jumped, then realizing the building was starting to crumble. He ran, but he was caught in the dust cloud of debris. He remembers not being able to breathe.

“That was the closest I remember being to facing death,” he said.

He, too, eventually moved back home to Raleigh, N.C., in 2003, wanting to prioritize being near people he knew and loved.

Jim Farmer, 70, still lives in the same Tribeca apartment that he lived in that day, seven blocks from ground zero. For six months after the attacks, he and his wife refused to use their fireplaces because they couldn’t bear to see another fire. Neither got on a plane for five years.

“We had a nightmare every night for a year about what we saw,” Mr. Farmer said.

Physical scars, too, remained. Mr. Farmer was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013, which doctors told him may have been related to his exposure to toxic air pollutants from 9/11.

All had varying ways of dealing with the day when it rolled around, they said. On the second anniversary, Mr. Cerqueira agreed to go to North Dakota for a work project, believing it was time for him to move on. But while driving down an empty road listening to memorials on the radio, he broke down sobbing. This year, he and his wife will go to a comedy show and spend time with their family.

For a few years, Mr. Lingenfelder said, he spent the day listening to music and tuning out the news. But he’s found it impossible this year to escape the deluge of news specials and documentaries about the attacks.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “Every year is different.”

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

These three firefighters from Texas are visiting New York City this weekend to honor the emergency responders who died on Sept. 11. “We are all brothers, and when 911 happened, it hurt all of us,” said Will Rivera, left, 38, a 14-year veteran with the San Antonio Fire Department.

Sunrise over Manhattan from the Empty Sky Memorial in Jersey City, N.J.
Credit…Bryan Anselm for The New York Times

Twenty years after hijacked passenger jets slammed into the towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa., the nation will pause to commemorate the deadliest attack in its history.

Though the country has come together even during its most divided moments to remember the loss of nearly 3,000 people, the ceremonies today will be particularly poignant. Over time, the attacks have receded from memory and moved into history. An entire generation has been born in the shadow of Sept. 11, only receiving its legacy secondhand.

The anniversary also arrives as the United States is in the throes of another life-changing national loss: a pandemic that has claimed more than 656,000 lives, upended the economy and exposed gaping fault lines in the fabric of American life. In the last week, as many Americans have died of complications from the virus every two days as perished in one fell swoop on 9/11.

And the United States has only just closed the chapter on a costly and devastating war that sprang from 9/11’s wake: a 20-year occupation in Afghanistan that began as a hunt for the terrorists who oversaw the attacks and ultimately ended with 170,000 lives lost — more than 2,400 of them Americans — and the same Taliban militants in power there. More than 100,000 Iraqis and 4,400 Americans were killed in the war in Iraq, also waged in the aftermath of 9/11.

President Biden, who as a senator on 9/11 sought desperately to soothe a panicking country, will start the day by traveling to a New York that bears fresh scars from the coronavirus.

“To the families of the 2,977 people from more than 90 nations killed on Sept. 11 in New York City, Arlington, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the thousands more who were injured, America and the world commemorate you and your loved ones,” Mr. Biden said in pre-taped remarks. “The pieces of your soul.”

Mr. Biden will first head to ground zero — once a horrifying pile of rubble, now a placid memorial — where families of the victims will converge to honor their loved ones at the place where their lives came to an end.

There, the families will read the names of the victims of the attacks, pausing for moments of silence at the times when the hijacked planes hit their targets and when the twin towers fell. Church bells will ring as the city quiets.

In Shanksville, Pa., former President George W. Bush, who was commander in chief when the attacks took place, will speak to the family members of the crew and passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, who fought back against the terrorists who had hijacked their flight and diverted it from their intended target in Washington.

Mr. Bush, whose legacy has been under renewed scrutiny as the war he began in Afghanistan met an unsuccessful end, will be joined by Vice President Kamala Harris. Mr. Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, will later arrive in Shanksville for a wreath-laying ceremony there.

At the Pentagon, a flag will be unfurled on the building’s west side, where a plane struck. Lloyd J. Austin III, the defense secretary, and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will participate in a morning ceremony to remember the 184 people killed there. Mr. Biden, Ms. Harris and their spouses will later participate in a wreath-laying ceremony to honor the victims.

Throughout the day, there will be other commemorations both small and large around the United States, where moments of silence will be observed and flags in many places will be flown at half-staff, as is custom for collective mourning.

As night falls in New York, the Tribute in Light, in which two columns of light shoot into the sky from the area near ground zero, will shine again. The beams, typically visible for a radius of up to 60 miles and extending four miles into the sky, replicate the shape of the Twin Towers that were destroyed in the attacks.

Credit…The New York Times

The shape of the front page that day began to form in my head as I raced to work on my bicycle down the West Side of Manhattan, watching the growing, black plume rising ahead of me.

Once I arrived in our Midtown office, story lists developed, photographs arrived, and I began sketching possible front pages, while both personally and professionally processing the devastating news as it unfolded, and planning for an entire main news section devoted to this story.

Conveying the magnitude and the horror of the attacks was the primary objective. There was no question the front page would be topped by a headline across the full width. I advocated for the short, simple, declarative words in bold, oversize type as fittingly stark and dramatic to mark this horrendous event.

The vertical grouping of images running to the bottom of the page was designed to take full advantage of the large scale of the broadsheet format, creating a dynamic contrast to our horizontal nameplate and banner headline at the top.

The selection of photographs was meant to depict various aspects of the story without diminishing the extraordinary, central image capturing the moment the plane hit the South Tower.

We deliberately retained our conventional, dense, narrow column grid to evoke the gritty, immediacy of traditional newspaper composition, but departed with wide measure text to give prominence and authority to the lead story. That also allowed for the inset of the chilling photo of the plane heading toward the tower, providing a visual accent outside the core photo layout.

As always, the first priority of A1 is to communicate the news of the day, but particularly for an event like 9/11, it also needs to carry the emotion and gravity of the day.

When I got back on my bike at the end of the day (actually, hours into the next day) I was completely drained by the grief and horror of 9/11, and the challenge of designing an intricate, 27 page report, but satisfied that our presentation of the news, particularly on the front page, effectively and appropriately captured this horrific moment.

Tom Bodkin is the chief creative officer of The New York Times. He has overseen the look and feel of print and digital platforms since 1987.





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