America remembers 9/11
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Heartfelt ceremonies are taking place all over the country and overseas, as we mark the 11th anniversary of the attacks that changed the United States forever.
Across the nation, and all over the world, Americans remembered the terrorists attacks that killed nearly three-thousand people. The 11th anniversary of 9/11 was remembered from New York,Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., to Afghanistan and here in the Valley.
Hundreds of people gathered in Clovis for the Valley's largest 9/11 memorial service. Members from various law enforcement agencies, firefighting departments and military branches all gathered to pay tribute to the lives lost on September 11th. The annual memorial ceremony included lowering of the flag, a wreath procession, and a 21-gun salute.
September 11th survivor and retired Police Chief Anthony Whitaker was there for the memorial. He says it's important for all Americans to remember this day. "It's living history in a sense that everytime you look at the American Flag, especially the American Flag that flies here today, you start to think of the cost -- the cost to our lives as Americans."
The memorial ceremony took place at Pelco by Scheider Electric.Hundreds of people from the community also gathered to pay their respects.
New York - Ground Zero
It's been 11 long years since the terror attacks of September 11th, and yet for thousands of family members who lost loved ones, the pain endures. At Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, loved ones gathered around the two memorial pools where the twin towers once stood. For the first time here, only the names of the victims were read -- there were no official speakers. "It's been a long time. It was time to do something different," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In Afghanistan, where the fighting continues over a decade later, U.S. troops marked the terror attacks at a memorial service in Kabul. "Since 9/11 we have not lost our focus we remain vigilant as we perform our duty in the service of our nation," said Brig. Gen. Ricky D. Gibbs.
Scores of people began arriving shortly after dawn at the site where a United Airlines jet crashed in southwestern Pennsylvania after the crew and passengers revolted against their hijackers. "Every 9/11 I come out to one of the sites," said Robert Hamel of El Segundo, Calif. Hamel spent the 10th anniversary at the ground zero ceremony in New York City last year, and plans to visit the Pentagon for next year's anniversary. Hamel says he feels a need to be connected to the tragic events of the day.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visited service members' graves at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington. The Obamas quietly walked between rows of graves at Section 60, which contains the remains of the most recent war dead. Pausing at several graves, Obama placed presidential "challenge" coins at the base of the headstones. The first headstone listed the names of 10 victims of an Oct. 26, 2009, helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Earlier, the Obamas placed a wreath at the Pentagon and observed a moment of silence on the White House South Lawn.
Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney was in Chicago where he also took the time to remember 9/11. Romney shook the hands of several Chicago firefighters and first responders who were gathered on the tarmac at O'Hare Airport. This was an impromptu stop for the Republican presidential nominee. The firefighters were holding a moment of silence for the 9/11 victims before Romney arrived. Romney then got on a plane and headed to Nevada.
Glen Rock, New Jersey
For some communities in the New York City region, 2012 was the first year without an official Sept. 11 memorial observance. The northern New Jersey community of Glen Rock held no organized public commemoration. The Glen Rock Assistance Council and Endowment, a community group set up to help families of the town's 11 victims, decided after months of community meetings that it was time to end the public events and let people remember on their own. "It was a difficult decision," said Brad Jordan, the group's chairman. "We felt this year it was more appropriate for a more personal and private observance."
Montclair, New Jersey
The mayor of Montclair decided to shift from a ceremony commemorating the terrorist attacks to urging residents to commit "random acts of kindness." "It was a matter of moving in another direction, really, in terms of looking at marking the day in a way that would be meaningful and significant to everyone in terms of a service-oriented commemoration," spokeswoman Katya Wowk said.
Hempstead, New York
Family members and friends of Sept. 11 victims gathered for an oceanfront ceremony at Point Lookout Beach in Hempstead. They wrote messages and names of victims on a panorama of the New York City skyline. Some also included the names of servicemen and women serving overseas.
A man who raced into a burning apartment building to alert residents was honored as part of observances in Massachusetts. Paul Antonino, of Wakefield, was presented with the annual Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery. The award was created to honor Sweeney, a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, the first of two jetliners that were hijacked from Boston's Logan Airport and flown into the World Trade Center. Also in Boston, the names of the more than 200 people with direct ties to Massachusetts who died were read by Gov. Deval Patrick, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and family members. A wreath was placed at the state's 9/11 memorial in the Boston Public Garden.
At Israel's Sept. 11 memorial -- a 30-foot bronze sculpture of a waving American flag that morphs into a memorial flame -- the father of one victim endorsed the crackdown on terrorism. Dov Shefi, the father of Hagay Shefi, who was attending a conference that day in the twin towers, said, "Let us hope that the free world will continue to fight against leaders of terrorist organizations and their supporters; let all the souls of the thousands of victims whose names are marked on this great living memorial in Jerusalem be remembered from here to eternity."
ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report
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