Americans remembered 9/11 on Sunday with tear-choked tributes and pleas to “never forget,” 21 years after the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil.
Bonita Mentis set out to read victims’ names at the World Trade Center wearing a necklace with a photo of her slain sister, Shevonne Mentis. The 25-year-old Guyanese immigrant worked at a financial firm while going to college.
“It’s been 21 years, but it’s not 21 years for us. It seems like just yesterday,” Mentis said. “The wounds are still fresh.”
“No matter how many years have passed, nobody can actually comprehend what happened,” she told a crowd that included Vice President Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff.
At the Pentagon, which also was targeted on 9/11, President Joe Biden vowed that the U.S. would continue working to root out terrorist plots and called on Americans to stand up for “the very democracy that guarantees the right to freedom that those terrorists on 9/11 sought to bury in the burning fire, smoke and ash.” First lady Jill Biden spoke at the third attack site, a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
On Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida conspirators seized control of jets to use them as passenger-filled missiles. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people, reconfigured national security policy and spurred a U.S. “war on terror” worldwide. Sunday’s observances came little more than a month after a U.S. drone strike killed a key al-Qaida figure who helped plot the 9/11 attacks, Ayman al-Zawahri.
Pierre Roldan, who lost his cousin Carlos Lillo, a paramedic, said “we had some form of justice” when a U.S. raid killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
“Now that al-Zawahri is gone, at least we’re continuing to get that justice,” Roldan said.