New ter­ror fight casts shadow over 9/11 cer­e­monies

The Covington News - - THE WIRE -

NEW YORK (AP) — The na­tion’s gath­er­ing war against a new up­surge in Is­lamic ter­ror hung heavy over the 13th an­niver­sary of the Sept. 11 at­tacks Thurs­day, stir­ring both anx­i­ety and de­ter­mi­na­tion among those who came to ground zero to re­mem­ber their loved ones.

The fa­mil­iar si­lence to mark the at­tacks and the solemn roll call of the nearly 3,000 dead came just hours after Pres­i­dent Barack Obama told the coun­try he is au­tho­riz­ing stepped-up airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Is­lamic State ex­trem­ists.

“It’s an on­go­ing war against ter­ror­ists. Old ones die out and new ones pop up,” Vasile Poptean said as he left the cer­e­mony, where he had gone to re­mem­ber his brother, Joshua Poptean. “If we don’t en­gage them now, there’s a pos­si­bil­ity there will be another 9/11 down the road.”

Vic­tims’ rel­a­tives and dig­ni­taries gath­ered in the plaza where the twin tow­ers once stood, an area of shim­mer­ing new sky­scrapers, in­clud­ing the soon-to-open 1,776-foot One World Trade Cen­ter.

The at­tacks were also com­mem­o­rated in Shanksville, Penn­syl­va­nia, where for­mer House Speaker Den­nis Hastert gave the flag that flew atop the U.S. Capi­tol on 9/11 to the Flight 93 Na­tional Memo­rial.

At the Pen­tagon, where Obama spoke at a wreath-lay­ing cer­e­mony, he didn’t men­tion the rise of Is­lamic State ex­trem­ists specif­i­cally but noted: “We can­not erase ev­ery trace of evil from the world.”

“That was the case be­fore 9/11,” the pres­i­dent said, “and that re­mains true to­day.”

Obama’s na­tion­ally tele­vised an­nounce­ment of his plans to “de­grade and ul­ti­mately de­stroy” the mil­i­tants, com­ing on the eve of the an­niver­sary, sparked mixed feel­ings among 9/11 vic­tims’ rel­a­tives. Some saw it as a sign of de­ter­mi­na­tion, oth­ers as bad tim­ing.

“We’re all walk­ing out the door to­day with tragic and sad and scary mem­o­ries on us. ... It’s an invitation to fight on a day where we lost,” said Ellen Mora, who lost her cousin, Robert Higley. But she noted that her mother felt dif­fer­ently, see­ing the speech as “us stand­ing tall on the an­niver­sary.”

So did Tom Langer, who lost his preg­nant sis­ter-in-law, Vanessa Langer.

“Thir­teen years later, it feels like the world is still pay­ing at­ten­tion,” he said.

Still oth­ers lamented that the U.S. was still bat­tling ter­ror­ists 13 years after the at­tacks.

“We’re fight­ing for noth­ing. We lost so many al­ready, and we will lose so many more,” said Gary Lan­ham, whose fa­ther, Michael Lowe, died at the World Trade Cen­ter.

While lit­tle about the an­nual cer­e­mony at ground zero has changed, much around it has.

When the un­der­ground Na­tional Sept. 11 Memo­rial Mu­seum opened this spring, fences around the memo­rial plaza above it came down, mak­ing it more eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to vis­i­tors and passers-through.

AP Photo/The Daily News, Robert Sabo, Pool

Roses and flags left by loved ones are placed on the names in­scribed at the North Pool dur­ing memo­rial ob­ser­vances on the 13th an­niver­sary of the Sept. 11 ter­ror at­tacks on the World Trade Cen­ter in New York, Thurs­day, Sept. 11, 2014. Fam­ily and friends of those who died read the names of the nearly 3,000 peo­ple killed in New York, at the Pen­tagon and near Shanksville, Penn­syl­va­nia.

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