U.S. marks an­niver­sary with re­solve, tears, hope

Amer­i­cans call for unity in trib­utes to 9/11 vic­tims.

The Palm Beach Post - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Jen­nifer Peltz and Karen Matthews

NEWYORK— Amer­i­cans com­mem­o­rated 9/11 on Mon­day with tear-streaked trib­utes, a pres­i­den­tial warn­ing to ter­ror­ists and appeals from vic­tims’ rel­a­tives for unity and hope 16 years af­ter the dead­li­est ter­ror­ist at­tack on U.S. soil.

Look­ing out at the solemn crowd at ground zero, De­bra Epps said she views ev­ery day as time to do some­thing to en­sure that her brother, Christo­pher Epps, and thou­sands of oth­ers didn’t die in vain.

“What I can say to­day is that I don’t live my life in com­pla­cency,” she said. “I stand in sol­i­dar­ity that this world will make a change for the bet­ter.”

Thou­sands of fam­ily mem­bers, sur­vivors, res­cuers and oth­ers gath­ered for the hours­long read­ing of vic­tims’ names at the World Trade Cen­ter, while Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump spoke at the Pen­tagon and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence ad­dressed an ob­ser­vance at the Flight 93 Na­tional Memo­rial near Shanksville, Penn­syl­va­nia.

Else­where, thou­sands of Amer­i­cans marked the an­niver­sary with ser­vice projects. Vol­un­teer Hil­lary O’Neill, 16, had her own con­nec­tion to 9/11: It’s her birth­date.

“I al­ways feel a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity to give back on the day,” O’Neill, of Nor­walk, Con­necti­cut, said as she packed up meals in New York City for needy lo­cal peo­ple and hur­ri­cane vic­tims in Texas and Florida.

Nearly 3,000 peo­ple were killed when planes hi­jacked by ter­ror­ists hit the trade cen­ter, the Pen­tagon and a field near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, hurl­ing Amer­ica into a new con­scious­ness of the threat of global ter­ror­ism.

Re­flect­ing on a tragedy that still feels im­me­di­ate to them, vic­tims’ rel­a­tives thanked first re­spon­ders and the military, wor­ried for peo­ple af­fected by Hur­ri­cane Irma as it con­tin­ued its de­struc­tive path as a trop­i­cal storm and pleaded for a re­turn to the sense of co­he­sive­ness that fol­lowed the at­tacks.

“Our coun­try came to­gether that day. And it did not mat­ter what color you were or where you were from,” said a tear­ful Ma­galy Le­magne, who lost her brother, Port Author­ity of New York and New Jersey po­lice of­fi­cer David Le­magne.

She im­plored peo­ple to “stop for a mo­ment and re­mem­ber all the peo­ple who gave their lives that day.

“Maybe then we can put away our dis­agree­ments and be­come one coun­try again,” she said.

Trump, a na­tive New Yorker ob­serv­ing the an­niver­sary for the first time as the coun­try’s leader, as­sured vic­tims’ fam­i­lies that “our en­tire na­tion grieves with you” and is­sued stern words to ex­trem­ists.

“Amer­ica can­not be in­tim­i­dated, and those who try will join a long list of van­quished en­e­mies who dared test our met­tle,” the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent said as he spoke at the Pen­tagon af­ter ob­serv­ing a mo­ment of si­lence at the White House.

When Amer­ica is united, “no force on earth can break us apart,” he said.

At the Flight 93 Na­tional Memo­rial, Pence said the pas­sen­gers who re­volted against hi­jack­ers might well have saved his own life.

The Repub­li­can vice pres­i­dent was a mem­ber of Congress on 9/11, and the Capi­tol was a pos­si­ble tar­get of the ter­ror­ist pi­lot­ing Flight 93. In­stead, it crashed near Shanksville af­ter the pas­sen­gers took ac­tion.

Thirty-three pas­sen­gers and seven crew mem­bers were killed.

De­laney Co­laio read names in honor of the three rel­a­tives she lost: her fa­ther, Mark Joseph Co­laio, and her un­cles, Stephen Co­laio and Thomas Pedicini. Just a tod­dler on 9/11, she is now mak­ing a doc­u­men­tary about the chil­dren who lost par­ents in the at­tacks.

“I stand here as a re­minder to the other fam­i­lies of 9/11 and to the world,” she said, “that no mat­ter how dark mo­ments of life can get, there is light ahead if you just choose hope.”

DA­MON WIN­TER / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Fire­fighter Wil­bur Suarez Jr., who was in the po­lice acad­emy on Sept. 11, 2001, and joined the FDNY in 2004, made a silent tribute out­side the FDNY En­gine 10, Lad­der 10 sta­tion at the 9/11 Memo­rial in lower Man­hat­tan.

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