Across the country, Americans marked the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, tolling church bells, pausing in silence to reflect and mourning the loss of the nearly 3,000 people who died.
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On the White House South Lawn, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama bowed their heads at 8:46 a.m., the moment the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. They later laid a wreath at the Pentagon, where the third plane struck. A flag was draped over the building to mark the day.
"Eleven times we have marked another September 11th come and gone. Eleven times, we have paused in remembrance, in reflection, in unity and in purpose," Obama said to families and military brass who gathered at the Pentagon, where 184 were killed. "This is never an easy day."
At Arlington National Cemetery, the Obamas visited the graves in Section 60, one of the sections where those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq are buried under chalk white markers.
They placed a "challenge coin" on a collective memorial to the victims of an Oct. 29, 2009 helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
At a ceremony in Manhattan, where One World Trade Center is under construction, the families of victims read the names of loved ones killed in the attacks, and traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange stood silent.
In Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in an open field after being hijacked by four terrorists, Vice President Biden spoke of the sacred hallowed ground, weaving in his own experience of loss to comfort the families of the 40 passengers and crew members who died there.
"For no matter how many anniversaries you experience, for at least an instant, the terror of that moment returns, the lingering echo of that phone call. That sense of total disbelief that envelops you. And you feel like sucked into a black hole in your chest," said Biden, whose first wife and baby daughter were killed in a car accident 40 years ago. "My hope for you all is that with every day that passes, the depth of your pain recedes, and you find comfort, genuine comfort, as I have."
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SOURCE: The Washington Post