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The Tribute in Light Thousands gathered at the World Trade Center site on Sunday to remember the victims of September 11.
(Rex Features via AP Images)

Looking Back

America comes together for the 10th anniversary of September 11

By Zach Jones | September 11 , 2011
<p>President Obama and former President Bush helped open a new 9/11 memorial where the Twin Towers once stood.<br />(Jason DeCrow/AP Images)</p><p>The Flight 93 National Memorial was built to honor victims of the plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. <br />(Kevin Dietsch / UPI / Newscom)</p>

President Obama and former President Bush helped open a new 9/11 memorial where the Twin Towers once stood.
(Jason DeCrow/AP Images)

The Flight 93 National Memorial was built to honor victims of the plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
(Kevin Dietsch / UPI / Newscom)

Ten years ago today, terrorists attacked the United States. It was the worst enemy attack ever to take place on U.S. soil. Nearly 3,000 people died. We call this day 9/11 because the attacks happened on September 11.

On that day, terrorists took control of four airplanes by force. They flew two of the planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, destroying the tallest buildings in New York City. They crashed another plane into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. military, in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

AMERICA IN MOURNING

Across the country, people marked the moments when each of the four planes crashed 10 years ago with silence. Bells rang throughout many towns and cities to honor those who died during the attacks and the two wars that followed.

Thousands of relatives, friends, and loved ones gathered this morning in New York City at the site where the World Trade Center once stood. Many placed flowers and pictures beside the bronze plaques where the names of those who died are written.

As they have done every year in memorial services at the site, hundreds of family members took turns reading from a list of the victims who died that day, 10 years ago.

"They were our neighbors, our friends, our husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children and parents," New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said before the ceremony began. "They were the ones who rushed in to help, 2,983 innocent men, women and children. We have asked their families to come here to speak the names out loud to remind each of us of a person we lost in New York, in Washington and Pennsylvania." 

President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush, who was President when the attacks occurred, were also there to help open a new memorial where the Twin Towers once stood. At the ceremony, President Obama read a prayer, and former President Bush read a letter written by Abraham Lincoln for a mother whose five sons were killed during the Civil War. On Monday, the new memorial will open to the public. 

Many other 9/11 memorials were also opened today across America. Pieces of wreckage from the World Trade Center were sent to be used as monuments as far away as Georgia, California, and Washington. New York's firefighters and police officers traveled with the larger pieces, and spoke at some of today's ceremonies. 

In Washington, Vice President Joe Biden spoke to those who came to pay their respects at the Pentagon. "Hope can grow from tragedy," the Vice President said. At dusk, almost 3,000 lights were lit in the Shanksville field where the fourth plane went down—one light for every life lost during the attacks. 

A DAY OF SERVICE

Over the past 10 years, September 11 has become a day of community service in the U.S. Many people give back to their communities through projects large and small to remember how Americans supported and cared for one another after the 9/11 attacks.

Students in Montclair, New Jersey, helped clean parks and sweep streets. In Florida's capital, Tallahassee, volunteers created care packages to send to U.S. troops stationed overseas. Volunteers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Orange County, California, have helped neighbors who needed help restoring their homes. In Maryland, more than 300 volunteers came together to build a special playground for children from military families.

President Obama said in a recent speech, "Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost—a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11."

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