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Nation's Leaders Remember 9/11

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Ian Pickus
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American flag

Ceremonies around the country today marked the 13th anniversary of the September 11 attacks and the memories of that day remain vivid for the nation’s leaders.“That day I think traumatized all Americans and it lives in everybody’s memory,” said Congressman Bill Owens, who represents much of upstate New York.

He says he remembers calling his two children who were living out of the area to make sure they were OK on that September morning.

“I think that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the first responders and to the military particularly in my case the folks at Ft. Drum,” Owens said. “Our sympathies continue to go out to the families of those who died.”

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Credit Jim Levulis / WAMC
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WAMC
America's Response Monument at Ground Zero in NYC honors U.S. special forces members who carried out operations in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon along with the passenger plane that crashed in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania took the lives of 2,977 victims. New York Congressman Paul Tonko says the events of that day are replayed in people’s minds whenever the calendar reads September 11th.

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Credit Jim Levulis / WAMC
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One World Trade Center, the Freedom Tower stands 1,776 feet tall at Ground Zero in New York City

“Where you think of the heroism, the bravery and the determination of several to respond to tragedy which seems to be a hallmark of our culture,” Tonko said. “First responders entering into the danger zone as others were escaping. The folks in Pennsylvania who fought on that plane to make certain that yet more damage and carnage was not allowed to happen.”

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Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek Township, PA

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch says the anniversary reminds people how important it is to come together as a community like the nation did in the days, weeks and months after the attack.

“It’s a very solemn moment,” Welch said. “The memory is etched in the hearts of all of us, but especially for the people who lost their lives and are still feeling the effects of that loss. But, we’re really proud of the way America rebounded and came together.”

In a televised address on the eve of the anniversary, President Barack Obama outlined a plan to destroy the terrorist group known as the Islamic State currently in control of areas in Iraq and Syria. The group used to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda, the organization responsible for the hijackings of passenger airliners used in the 2001 attacks. Western Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal says the current threat is a reminder of that dark day.

“We’re reminded today of how grim it was 13 years ago,” Neal said. “We’re reminded today of the sacrifice of those families and the first responders. I would point out all innocent people that were victimized on 9/11 by a terrorist organization that had no address and I think in this instance here, it’s a reminder today that this threat has really not receded.”

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Credit Flickr
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The Pentagon Memorial

Owens adds the dangers of a terrorist attack still remain.

“Unfortunately I think that it does have significant meaning because we now know that this problem appears to be lingering on and that’s very distressing,” Owens said. “It means that we’re continuing to have crises throughout the world where people are horribly mistreated and murdered. Obviously that pains everybody as we try and seek solutions for these problems.”

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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