“To speak to you, dead of 9/11, I must not claim false intimacy or summon an overheated heart, fabricated just in time for a camera,” was heard Friday night at Trinity Church in lower Manhattan. The words, here in free translation, are from Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, who died two years ago in New York. The poem continues: “I must be calm and I must be clear, always knowing that I have nothing to say—no words stronger than the steel that has bent you upon yourselves; no writing older or more elegant than the ancestral atoms you became”.
With just a few dozen people watching, on Friday night (dawn on Saturday in Portugal) began two days of tributes and evocations in the area hit by the terrorist attacks 20 years ago. At the end of the function, the congregation that followed the celebrants to the nearby church of St Paul could see in the skies of the Big Apple the two blue beams of the Tribute in Light, which are lit every year in memory of the 2977 who lost their lives that Tuesday -Fair of 2001.
There, under a panel in homage to the forces that helped the victims (and that lost hundreds of troops), a mother was thrilled to talk to two teenage daughters about a relative they never got to know. And they went together to light a candle and then write on ribbons that will be tied to the fence of the church, the same one where, two decades ago, photographs of the disappeared were posted, in despair, in search of news.
Biden at the three attack sites
Without the ephemeris having populated the public space of Manhattan (except for very specific places such as, for example, the two churches mentioned, some fire stations and an area of the Newark airport), it is at Ground Zero (where they were built during 28 years old at the Twin Towers) which takes place the most important part of the solemn acts, for the first time under the presidency of Joe Biden. The head of state will go to New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon, the sites of the tragedy. And the date will be marked throughout the territory of the United States of America and in profuse television programming.
Due to the pandemic, the ceremony is reserved for the victims’ relatives. As usual, the names of all of them will be read, amidst the death knell and moments of silence marking the moments when each tower was hit and collapsed, the Pentagon attack and the one in which the plane crashed in Pennsylvania.
“I’m not here tomorrow, I’m downstairs at the ceremony,” said an employee of the One World Trade Center, the skyscraper that sprang up next to the memorial, near the site of the fallen towers, Friday afternoon. The experience of those visiting the top floor of the building, while stunning when it comes to seeing New York from above, does not draw the memory of the lethal day of 2001 at all. the lift to the top. It’s tourism and not museum.
On Saturday at Ground Zero, Biden will be joined by Barack Obama, for whom he was deputy between 2009 and 2017. George W. Bush, who governed the country at the time of the killing, will make a speech in Pennsylvania, where one of the planes crashed, whose passengers managed to prevent the jihadists from fulfilling their supposed purpose of crashing into the White House or the Capitol.
The other two former presidents will not be at the public ceremonies. For health reasons, Jimmy Carter, 96, will stay at home in “prayer and reflection” with his wife, Rosalynn. Donald Trump’s schedule includes commenting on a boxing match.
The former President surprised the country two days ago by claiming to have been at the scene of the attack 20 years ago, helping rescue efforts, having been pulled over by “two firefighters” when a building was about to collapse. There is nothing to indicate that this is true. Trump could still pass by Ground Zero on Saturday, but in the afternoon and only after Biden leaves town.
Controversy over confidential information
The current President also found himself, for very different reasons, involved in controversy over the commemorations. Around 1800 relatives of 9/11 victims wanted Biden away from Ground Zero if he did not reveal documents that could indicate involvement in the preparation of the attacks by the regime in Saudi Arabia, the country from which 16 of the 19 men who hijacked the four planes used by the Al-Qaeda. The President agreed.
The posters with faces placed 20 years ago on the fences of the churches of Trinity and St Paul are very present in Henrique Mano’s mind. The Portuguese journalist, now director of the newspaper “Luso-Americano”, had gone to the newsroom and could no longer return to the city, where he lived at the time.
“We had the television on, but we should have been watching RTP, because it was a reader who called the managing editor with the news that “a light aircraft” had collided with one of the World Trade Center towers. They quickly realized it was something else. Mano stayed to sleep at a friend’s house and only later managed to go where everything was happening. This man who says he hates “being news” ended up playing a role in identifying the nine Portuguese dead, which in one case only happened a year later. Of more than 1000 victims there is not even a trace of any kind. “I remember as if it were yesterday”, he assures.
Over the next few days he spoke to many people there, especially Portuguese business owners in the area, most of whom have since moved to New Jersey or other states. Everyone helped to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing—the ones it was possible to find.
It happens with 9/11 what happened with the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963: if you are old enough to remember, you know exactly what you were doing when you were officially informed. But it so happens that, like the death of the former President in Dallas, the attacks of 2001 are becoming more and more history and less living memory.
Except for the victims’ friends and relatives, for whom it’s hard to heal. Physical and psychological ailments accumulate and age weighs heavily. Henrique Mano, who maintains contact with several of the bereaved Luso-American families, explains that many of these people avoid going out on September 11th and, if they visit the memorial, they do so on another day. Such is the distance that mediates between the public act and the private pain.
Source: Expresso by expresso.pt.
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