By JENNIFER PELTZ and KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans remember 9/11 with moments of silence, readings of victims’ names, volunteer work and other tributes 21 years after the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.

Relatives of the victims and dignitaries will gather Sunday at the scene where the hijacked planes crashed on September 11, 2001 – the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

Other communities across the country mark the day with candlelight vigils, interfaith services and other commemorations. Some Americans join volunteer projects on a day recognized by the federal government as both Patriots’ Day and a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

The celebrations follow a milestone anniversary last year. It came weeks after the chaotic and humiliating end to the war in Afghanistan launched by the United States in response to the attacks.

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But while this 9/11 may be less of an inflection point, it remains a point of reflection on the attack that killed nearly 3,000 people, sparked a worldwide American ‘war on terror’ and reconfigured national security policy.

It also sparked – for a time – a sense of national pride and unity for many, while subjecting Muslim Americans to years of suspicion and bigotry and spawning a debate about the balance between security and freedoms. civil. In both subtle and simple ways, the aftermath of 9/11 ripples through American politics and public life to this day.

And the attacks cast a shadow over the personal lives of thousands of people who survived, responded to or lost loved ones, friends and colleagues.

More than 70 of Sekou Siby’s colleagues perished at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the mall’s north tower. Siby had to work that morning until another cook asked her to change shifts.

Siby never resumed working at a restaurant again; it would have brought back too many memories. The Ivorian immigrant struggled to understand such horror in a country where he had come to seek a better life.

He struggled to forge the kind of close and family friendships that he and his colleagues at Windows on the World had shared. It was too painful, he learned, to get attached to people when “you have no control over what happens to them next”.

“Every 9/11 is a reminder of what I lost and can never get back,” says Siby, who is now president and CEO of ROC United. The restaurant workers advocacy group evolved from a relief center for Windows on the World workers who lost their jobs in the fall of the Twin Towers.

President Joe Biden plans to speak and lay a wreath at the Pentagon on Sunday, while first lady Jill Biden is due to speak in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where one of the hijacked planes crashed after passengers and crew attempted to storm the cockpit as the hijackers headed for Washington. Al-Qaeda conspirators had taken control of the jets to use as missiles loaded with passengers.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff are due to attend the National September 11 Memorial in New York, but by tradition, no political figure speaks at the Ground Zero ceremony. Instead, it focuses on the relatives of the victims reading aloud the names of the dead.

Readers often add personal remarks that form an alloy of American feelings about 9/11 — grief, anger, toughness, appreciation for first responders and the military, appeals to patriotism, hopes for peace, the occasional political jab, and a poignant narrative. graduation ceremonies. , weddings, births and daily newspapers that the victims missed.

Some relatives also lament that a nation that united – to some extent – after the attacks has since splintered. So much so that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, which were reshaped to focus on international terrorism after 9/11, now see the threat of domestic violent extremism as just as urgent.

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