US marks 9/11 with somber tributes; Trump speaks

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans looked back on 9/11 Tuesday with solemn ceremonies, volunteer service and a presidential tribute to “the moment when America fought back” on one of the hijacked planes used as weapons in the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.

Thousands of 9/11 victims’ relatives, survivors, rescuers and others who gathered on a misty Tuesday morning at the memorial plaza where the World Trade Center’s twin towers once stood. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence headed to the two other places where hijacked planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001: a Pennsylvania field and the Pentagon.

Seventeen years after losing her husband, Margie Miller went to the New York City ceremony from her home in suburban Baldwin.

“To me, he is here. This is my holy place,” she said before the hours-long reading of the names of the nearly 3,000 dead, including her husband, Joel Miller.

The president and first lady Melania joined an observance at the Sept. 11 memorial in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the jetliners fell to the ground after 40 passengers and crew members realized hijackers had taken control and tried to storm the cockpit.

Calling it “the moment when America fought back,” Trump said the fallen “took control of their destiny and changed the course of history.”

They “joined the immortal ranks of American heroes,” said Trump.

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,” pleaded 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. Let’s not trivialize them.”

This year’s anniversary comes as a heated midterm election cycle kicks into high gear. But there have long been some efforts to separate the solemn anniversary from politics. The group 9/11 Day, which promotes volunteering on an anniversary service in 2009, routinely asks candidates not to campaign or run political ads for the da