Countries mark anniversary with tributes to victims
PARIS - An American expatriate in Paris cries over an indelible memory of sadness. Taps echoes from Brussels to Bagram, Afghanistan. An Israeli retiree remembers her daughter lost in the attack on the World Trade Center.
A decade after Sept. 11, the day that changed so much for so many people, the world’s leaders and citizens paused to reflect yesterday on the terror attacks in the United States that took nearly 3,000 lives of people from more than 90 countries.
Untold millions around the world pored over the memories of shock, sadness, and stupefaction, recalling where they saw televised images or heard of the attacks 10 years ago - or learned of a friend or relative who had died.
The mostly somber commemorations from Sydney to Spain stood out against pockets of protest.
“On this day, Kyrgyzstan, like all the world, shares the grief of the United States,’’ said President Roza Otunbayeva at a ceremony at a US air base in her central Asian country, which has supported military operations in nearby Afghanistan. “This tragedy consolidated humanity and brought it together in the fight against the common enemy of terrorism.’’
About 500 soldiers gathered at Bagram Air Field near the Afghan capital, Kabul, for a ceremony in front of a piece of World Trade Center rubble. It was briefly interrupted by a reminder of war - a fighter jet buzzed closely overhead.
At NATO headquarters in Brussels, a French soldier played taps and the flags of 28 alliance states were lowered to half-staff as a tribute to the victims. About 130,000 NATO troops - two-thirds of them Americans - now serve in Afghanistan. More than 2,700 service members have died in that war.
Speaking at a memorial in Jerusalem marking the anniversary, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped because the possibility of extremists getting atomic weapons is a real threat.
In a forest outside Jerusalem, where a bronze sculpture of the US flag stands in memory of Sept. 11 victims, Miriam Avraham remembered her daughter Alona, on board United Airlines Flight 175 when the plane plowed into the South Tower.
“September 11 is everything,’’ said Avraham, who wore a photograph of her smiling, 30-year-old daughter pinned to her shirt. “My daughter was killed. My world was destroyed. For me, every day is September 11.’’
In Malaysia, Pathmawathy Navaratnam woke up yesterday in her suburban Kuala Lumpur home and did what she’s done every day for the past decade: wish her son Vijayashanker Paramsothy “Good morning.’’
The financial analyst, 23, was killed in the attacks in New York. “He is my sunshine. . . . I can’t accept that he is not here anymore,’’ Navaratnam said.
In Manila, dozens of former shanty dwellers in one neighborhood offered roses, balloons, and prayers for another victim, US citizen Marie Rose Abad. The village used to be squalid, and reeking of garbage. But in 2004, her Filipino-American husband, Rudy, built 50 brightly colored homes, fulfilling his late wife’s wish to help impoverished Filipinos. The village has since been named after her.
In Pakistan, about 100 supporters of an Islamist political party staged anti-US protests in Islamabad and Multan. In Karachi, another 100 people protested the war in Afghanistan. A few dozen demonstrators from a group called Muslims Against Crusades gathered outside the US Embassy in London. One group set fire to a depiction of a US flag during a minute’s silence. Two Islamic protesters were later arrested.
But the day was dominated by sorrow and remembrance.
Pope Benedict XVI, at an outdoor Mass in Ancona, Italy, prayed for victims and urged the world to resist what he called the “temptation toward hatred’’ and instead work for solidarity, justice, and peace.
On a square overlooking the Eiffel Tower in Paris, hundreds turned out for a ceremony at two nine-story scaffolding towers erected as replicas of the twin towers - with “The French will never forget’’ written on them. Children released doves in the air to symbolize peace.
In Japan, families gathered in Tokyo to pay their respects to 23 Fuji Bank employees who never made it out of their World Trade Center office. A dozen of the workers who died were Japanese.
One by one, family members laid flowers in front of an enclosed glass case containing a steel retrieved from ground zero. They clasped their hands and bowed their heads.