NEW YORK (AP) — Americans reflect on the horror and legacy of Sept. 11 and gather Monday at memorials, firehouses, city halls and elsewhere to mark the 22nd anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Commemorations range from the attack sites – New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania – to Alaska and beyond. President Joe Biden is expected a ceremony at a military base in Anchorage.
His visit on the way to Washington, DC, from a trip to India and Vietnam, is a reminder that the impact of 9/11 was felt in every corner of the country, no matter how remote. Almost 3,000 people were killed in the attacks using hijacked aircraft changed American foreign policy And domestic fears.
On that day “we were one country, one nation, one people, as we should be. “That was the feeling – that everyone came together and did what we could, wherever we were, to help,” said Eddie Ferguson, the fire chief in Virginia’s Goochland County.
It is more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the Pentagon and more than three times as far from New York. But a sense of connection is enshrined in a local memorial made from steel from the destroyed Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
The predominantly rural county of 25,000 is hosting not one but two anniversary celebrations: a morning service aimed at first responders and an evening ceremony honoring all the victims.
Other communities across the country are paying tribute with moments of silence, ringing bells, candlelight vigils and other activities. In Columbus, Indiana, emergency dispatchers sent a memorial message to police, fire and emergency medical services throughout the city of 50,000, where a public memorial ceremony will also be held.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts raise and lower the flag at a memorial ceremony in Fenton, Missouri, where a “heroes monument” consists of a piece of steel from the World Trade Center and a plaque honoring 9/11 victim Jessica Leigh Sachs. Some of her relatives live in the St. Louis suburb of 4,000 people.
“We’re just a small community,” Mayor Joe Maurath said, but “it’s important for us to continue to remember these events. Not just 9/11, but all the events that set us free.”
Monmouth County, New Jersey, where some 9/11 victims lived, made September 11 a holiday this year for county employees to attend commemorations.
As another way to mark the anniversary, many Americans volunteer on what Congress has designated as both Patriot Day and the National Day of Service and Remembrance.
At Ground Zero, Vice President Kamala Harris will attend the ceremony on the plaza of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. There will be no remarks from political figures at the event; instead, the podium will be given over to the victims’ families for hours of reading out the names of the dead.
James Giaccone has also registered for a reading this year in memory of his brother Joseph Giaccone (43). The family attends the ceremony every year to hear Joseph’s name.
“When their name is spoken out loud, they don’t disappear,” James Giaccone said in a recent interview.
Remembrance is important to him.
“I hope I never see the day when they downplay this,” he said. “It’s a day that changed history.”
Biden, a Democrat, will be the first president to commemorate 9/11 in Alaska or anywhere in the western United States. He and his predecessors have gone to one attack site or another in most years, although Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama each celebrated the anniversary on the White House lawn at times. Obama followed one of those celebrations by paying tribute to the military with a visit to Fort Meade in Maryland.
First Lady Jill Biden will lay a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon.
In Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked jets crashed after passengers tried to storm the cockpit, a memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony is planned at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, operated by the National Park Service. Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, is expected to attend the ceremony.
The memorial will offer a new educational video, virtual tour and other materials for teachers to use in the classroom. Educators totaling more than 10,000 students have registered for access to the free National Day of Learning program, which organizers say will be available through the fall.
“We need to pass the message on to the next generation,” said memorial spokeswoman Katherine Hostetler, a National Park Service ranger.