Families of 9/11 victims set to gather at Ground Zero on anniversary

Families of 9/11 victims set to gather at ground zero as Americans prepare to mark the 18th anniversary of the atrocity with mournful ceremonies across the country

  • Relatives of the dead will visit Ground Zero where every name will be read out
  • President Trump will go to the Pentagon and VP Pence to the site of Flight 93
  • The Al-Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people 

Families of 9/11 victims are set to gather at Ground Zero and memorials around the country today, 18 years after the terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. 

Relatives of some of the dead will visit Ground Zero on Wednesday where every victim’s name will be read out, and tolling bells will mark the moments when two hijacked planes crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center. 

President Donald Trump is due at a ceremony at the Pentagon, where the third plane exploded, while Vice President Mike Pence will speak near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where heroic passengers brought down the fourth jet before it could reach Washington. 

Former President George W. Bush, the commander-in-chief at the time of the 2001 attacks, is due at an afternoon wreath-laying at the Pentagon.

Tribute in Light: Two columns of light rise above the lower Manhattan skyline last night, replicating the skyline where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood 

Mourners hold up a flag last night in tribute to the ‘heroes of Flight 93’ who revolted against their Al-Qaeda hijackers and brought the plane down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Second funeral: Kiersten Haub, Erika Starke, and Michael Haub, relatives of New York firefighter and 9/11 victim Michael Haub, attend a funeral service for him last night after further remains were recently identified

The day that shook the world: Smoke rises from the twin towers after hijacked planes rammed into the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001

Last night there was a sunset memorial service in Shanksville where mourners held up an American flag in tribute to ‘the heroes of Flight 93’. 

It is believed the fourth hijacked plane was aiming for either the White House or the Capitol but the unarmed passengers rebelled against the hijackers and brought the plane down. 

In New York there was a tearful memorial service for firefighter Michael Haub yesterday after some of his remains were recently identified. 

Two columns of light beamed into the sky last night, recreating the skyline where the towers once stood, in the annual Tribute in Light.  

Eighteen people were freed alive from the rubble of the towers, one of them as late as 12.30pm on September 12, but thousands more were trapped. 

The al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked commercial planes in a devastating co-ordinated attack and used them as missiles, both towers coming down within less than two hours after they were hit. 

The death toll was 2,977 including the attack on the Pentagon and Flight 93. 

People pause at the World Trade Center memorial in lower Manhattan yesterday as America prepares to mark the 18th anniversary today

Norma Molina, of San Antonio, Texas, leaves flowers by the names of firefighters from Engine 33 at the September 11 Memorial on Monday

Visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville hold up a flag in memory of the passengers who died. It is believed the plane was aiming for the White House or the Capitol

A visitor to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, views the Wall of Names on Tuesday

Eighteen years after the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, the nation is still grappling with the aftermath.  

‘People say, ‘Why do you stand here, year after year?” Chundera Epps, a sister of 9/11 victim Christopher Epps, said at last year’s ceremony at the World Trade Center. 

‘Because soldiers are still dying for our freedom. First responders are still dying and being ill.’

‘We can’t forget. Life won’t let us forget,’ she added. 

A rocket exploded at the U.S. embassy as the anniversary began in Afghanistan, where a post-9/11 invasion has become America’s longest war.

There has also been growing awareness of the suffering of another group of people tied to the tragedy: firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after exposure to the wreckage and the toxins unleashed in it. 

The collapse of the World Trade Center produced thick dust clouds, and fires burned for months in the rubble. 

While research continues into whether those illnesses are tied to 9/11 toxins, a victims compensation fund for people with potentially related health problems problems has awarded more than $5.5 billion so far. Over 51,000 people have applied. 

New York Fire Department members attend a second funeral service for FDNY firefighter Michael Haub in Franklin Square, New York, last night

A man looks at the World Trade Center memorial in lower Manhattan yesterday where names of the victims are displayed around the edge of a pool 

Relatives of some of the dead will visit Ground Zero on Wednesday where every victim’s name will be read out

After years of legislative gridlock, dwindling money in the fund and fervent activism by ailing first responders and their advocates, Congress this summer made sure the fund won’t run dry. 

Trump, a Republican and a New Yorker who was in the city on 9/11, signed the measure in July. 

The sick gained new recognition this year at the memorial plaza at ground zero, where the new 9/11 Memorial Glade was dedicated this spring.

The tribute features six large stacks of granite, with a dedication ‘to those whose actions in our time of need led to their injury, sickness, and death.’

Some 9/11 memorials elsewhere already included sickened rescue, recovery and cleanup workers, and there is a remembrance wall entirely focused on them in Nesconset, on Long Island. 

But those who fell ill or were injured, and their families, say having a tribute at ground zero carries special significance.  

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