In response to the attacks, American leaders launched two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, with millions of service members dispatching to dangerous locations across the globe. More than 4,000 more Americans have been killed in those conflicts.
At Ground Zero in New York, Obama and former president George W. Bush, along with their wives, walked slowly along the North Memorial Pool, where the north Trade Center tower fell. Obama touched a wall etched with the names of those who perished.
In the crowd, Rosaria Renoe, 40, whose sister, Daniela Notaro, 25, was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, said she hoped people would never forget the tragedy.
“I want people to be aware of what happened,” Renoe said. “I don’t think there is ever any closure when you lose someone you love so much. You get a bit stronger, but you don’t get over it.”
Opening the New York ceremony, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said: “Ten years have passed since a perfect blue sky morning turned into the blackest of nights. Since then, we’ve lived in sunshine and in shadows.”
Obama then read from Psalm 46: “The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved. He uttered his voice. The earth melted. The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. Come behold the works of the Lord who has made desolations in the Earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the Earth.”
Bells chimed at 8:46 a.m., the moment 10 years ago when the first jetliner struck the North Tower, and the crowd observed a moment of silence. Family members began reciting the names of those killed. They stood near the construction site of a new tower, called 1 World Trade Center, a $3.2 billion, 1,776-foot building that has reached the 80th of its planned 104 floors.
The bells chimed again at 9:03 a.m., marking the impact of the second plane flying into the south tower, and Bush read a quotation from Abraham Lincoln. Later, musician Paul Simon played a haunting rendition of “The Sound of Silence.”
Family members paraded images of lost husbands, wives, parents and children on placards, T-shirts, buttons and tattoos. “I love you daddy,” read one card, bearing a photograph.
Chundera Epps, 50, a U.S. postal worker, wore her 29-year-old brother Christopher’s image on a large cape draped over her back. Christopher had worked at an accounting firm on the 93rd floor of the North Tower; it would be three years after the attack before his remains were identified.