“Every birthday is important. This one no more than another ”. It was very early Saturday morning when Sheila Mazza showed up at the entrance to the 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan with her husband, a bouquet of flowers in her hands and her eyes on the verge of tears, with head one of the names that make up the list of 2,977 victims of the attacks against the twin towers of the World Trade Center. It was exactly 20 years ago this Saturday.
“Kathleen Moran” dropped the New Yorker, her voice weak and sobbing. Her daughter. “She was 46 years old. That morning, her ascent to the 63rd floor of the South Tower where she worked for investment bank Morgan Stanley became a one-way ticket to horror and death.
“What scares me today is that people are starting to forget. And that’s why we have to continue to be there, ”said Ms. Mazza.
At 8:46 a.m., the sound of a bell called for a minute of silence, thus initiating the memorial service for an unnamed tragedy which began at this precise time, that day in September 2001, by the impact of a first airliner, launched by the hatred of terrorists, radicalized by a certain Osama Bin Laden, against the north tower.
Some members of the families of the victims then began reading the names of each of the missing, as is now the tradition established 19 years ago, on the 1st anniversary of this drama that changed the face of America.
“It’s important to be here to remember,” said Abena Roman, who traveled from the Bronx to New York’s Financial District on Saturday morning at dawn to attend this commemorative day. The young woman lost a cousin and a cousin in these attacks. She wrote their names on a small white ribbon and then hung it on the bar of the fence of Saint Paul’s Chapel, along Trinity Place. Right next to the Memorial. Felix Antonio Vale. Betsy Martinez.
And she remembered this detail that has haunted her for two decades now.
“This September 11, they arrived at work earlier than usual because a friend drove them faster to the train station,” she says. “If they had done as usual, they would have arrived here after the impact of the first plane and would certainly have survived.”
Gathered around the fountains which now occupy the exact location of the missing twin towers, hundreds of families of these victims attended this ceremony, inhabited by the same emotional charge that led Ms. Roman to the memorial on Saturday morning. Some carried a sign displaying the photo and name of a missing person – Uncle Bobby. Wilder A. Gomez. Jill Maurer-Campbell… Others had a bouquet of flowers in their arms, and all eyes filled with deep sadness.
“There is a strong emotion here today, an emotion that we understand intimately, summarized Stéphanie Labonté-Licker, who came from Montérégie with her husband, Steve Joncas, firefighter in Farnham, to attend the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. When families let one of their own on an emergency response, they never know if they will come back. We are there for those families, whom we did not know, and who lost a loved one that day. “
343 firefighters and 60 police officers never returned home after this morning of September 11. “It’s been 10 years that I wanted to be here to pay tribute to these first responders and their work,” said Mr. Joncas, met near the memorial in the minutes leading up to the start of the ceremony.
A ceremony attended by President Joe Biden, accompanied by former US Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Similar events were also held at the Pentagon, struck at 9:37 a.m. by a third airliner and in Shankville, Pa., Where United Airlines Flight 93 ended its run in a field, after passengers assaulted terrorists in the cockpit. The plane had targeted the capital, Washington.
In a video released Friday night by the White House, Joe Biden showed his respect for the heroism that cohabited with horror on this dark day for America. But he also took advantage of this 20th anniversary, to try to breathe new life into his presidency, after a difficult month of August, marked by the chaotic departure of the Americans from Afghanistan, by placing “national unity”. At the heart of his speech.
“We saw heroism everywhere,” he said. “But we also saw something too rare: a real sense of national unity.” In 20 years, this unity “has folded”, he said, and the country must now ensure that it never breaks. “Unity is what makes us who we are, America at its best,” he added.