Obama praises 9/11 unity on low-key anniversary
By Mariano Andrade, AFP
September 13, 2012, 11:38 am TWN
NEW YORK -- President Barack Obama lauded American unity Tuesday as the country marked a somber but low-key anniversary of the 9/11 attacks under crisp blue skies reminiscent of the fateful day 11 years ago.
"The true legacy of 9/11 will not be one of fear or hate or division," Obama said at the Pentagon near Washington. "It will be a safer world, a stronger nation, and a people more united than ever before."
Highlighting what he said were the "crippling" blows dealt against al-Qaida and the killing last year of Osama bin Laden, Obama said the United States is "even stronger."
But in Egypt and Libya, angry mobs attacked U.S. diplomatic missions on the sensitive anniversary over a film deemed an offense to Islam, killing a U.S. official at the consulate in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi city.
Thousands protested at the embassy in Cairo, with some of the protesters scaling the walls and replacing the U.S. flag with a black Islamic one.
As in past years, relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed when al-Qaida hijackers slammed airliners into New York's World Trade Center gathered at Ground Zero to read out the names of the dead.
The pristine blue sky was identical to the one 11 years ago when millions of people watched from the streets and live on television as the planes flew straight into the upper floors of the Twin Towers, causing them to collapse.
Emotions, however, are distinctly cooler as America finally tries to draw a line under an event that sparked the decade-long War on Terror.
No politicians joined in the Ground Zero reading and security was less intense, in contrast to the 10th anniversary last year when Obama headed a long list of VIPs at the ceremony.
"I feel much more relaxed. After the ninth anniversary, those next days it started building up to the 10th anniversary," June Pollicino, who lost her husband on 9/11, told AFP.