The 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place in New York City on Saturday. This marked two decades since four fully loaded US commercial jets were brought down by hijackers affiliated with the Islamist group al-Qaeda. The ceremony focused on One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western hemisphere that now stands in place of the Twin Towers.
Six moments of silence were observed, acknowledging when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell, as well as the times of the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
At sundown, the annual “Tribute in Light” illuminated the sky, an art installation consisting of vertical searchlights arranged in two columns of light to represent the Twin Towers. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum, completed in 2004, was opened for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The names of 2,983 victims are inscribed on 152 bronze parapets surrounding reflecting pools that are placed where the towers once stood.
President Biden had been encouraged not to attend the events by relatives of nearly 1,800 victims, after refusing to release classified documents that may implicate the Saudi Government. After the failure of a federal lawsuit accusing Saudi Arabia of being complicit in the attacks, the report concluded: “ a failure to conduct oversight over institutions created an environment in which such activity has flourished.”
Meanwhile, the report also detailed how the first two hijackers, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, arrived and leased a property in San Diego with the help of Omar-al-Bayoumi, a Saudi national who had links to the Saudi government.
After the most deadly terrorist attack on US soil, President Bush addressed the nation, just hours after returning to the Oval Office from an elementary school in Florida: “None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.”