9/11 marked by somber tributes

NEW YORK — Americans looked back on 9/11 Tuesday with tears and somber tributes as President Donald Trump hailed “the moment when America fought back” on one of the hijacked planes used as weapons in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

Victims’ relatives said prayers for their country, pleaded for national unity and pressed officials not to use the 2001 terror attacks as a political tool in a polarized nation.

Seventeen years after losing her husband, Margie Miller came from her suburban home to join thousands of relatives, survivors, rescuers and others on a misty morning at the memorial plaza where the World Trade Center’s twin towers once stood.

“To me, he is here. This is my holy place,” she said before the hours-long reading of the names of her husband, Joel Miller, and the nearly 3,000 others killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

The president and first lady Melania Trump joined an observance at the

Sept. 11 memorial near Shanksville, where one of the jetliners crashed after 40 passengers and crew members realized what was happening and several passengers tried to storm the cockpit.

At the Pentagon, Vice President Mike Pence recalled the heroism of service members and civilians who repeatedly went back into the Pentagon to rescue survivors.

The terrorists “hoped to break our spirit, and they failed,” he said.

The 9/11 commemorations are by now familiar rituals, centered on reading the names of the dead. But each year at ground zero, victims’ relatives infuse the ceremony with personal messages of remembrance, inspiration and concern.

For Nicholas Haros Jr., that concern is officials who make comparisons to 9/11 or invoke it for political purposes.

“Stop. Stop,” implored Haros, who lost his 76-year-old mother, Frances. “Please stop using the bones and ashes of our loved ones as props in your political theater. Their lives, sacrifices and deaths are worth so much more.”

There were politically tinged appeals from some victims’ relatives amid the reading.

“May we support our president to lead our country,” said Joanne Barbara, who lost her husband, Fire Department Assistant Chief Gerard Barbara.

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