<< Show Caption >>
Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The moments the United States was hit with its deadliest terrorist attacks in history were observed Tuesday in Lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon and in western Pennsylvania, on their 17th anniversary.
The names of nearly 3,000 people who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, were read aloud Tuesday morning -- beginning at 8:46 a.m., the moment American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower.
Families and friends of the victims gathered at the September 11th Memorial plaza, at the footprints of the destroyed towers, to hear each of the victims' names. They were read with survivors and rescuers and other people honoring them.
The reading of every name took about three and-a-half hours.
The Manhattan ceremony came just three days after a subway running beneath the World Trade Center site reopened for the first time since it was destroyed in 2001.
Tuesday evening, two beams of light shined into the sky to mimic where the towers once stood. The "Tribute in Light" was first seen at Ground Zero just months after the attacks in 2002.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump flew to western Pennsylvania to observe the 17th anniversary of the attacks. They attended a service at the new United Airlines Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., where the fourth hijacked airliner crashed into a field.
"We're gathered together on these hallowed grounds to honor the memory of nearly 3,000 souls who were murdered on this day, 17 years ago," the president said.
Passengers and crew who revolted aboard the flight are credited with foiling the hijackers' plan to crash the Boeing 757 into the U.S. Capitol.
"We're here to pay solemn tribute to the 40 passengers and crew members on Flight 93 who rose up, defied the enemy, took control of their destiny and changed the course of history," Trump said.
The president said the United States must always remember the sacrifices those aboard Flight 93 made for their country.
"Today, we mourn their loss, we share their story, and we commemorate their incredible valor," he added. "On Sept. 11, 2001, a band of brave patriots turned the tide on our nation's enemies and joined the immortal ranks of American heroes."
Among other attendees in Shanksville Tuesday were Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, some members of Congress, first responders, Families of Flight 93 President Gordon Felt and other survivors and relatives.
Former Gov. Mark Schweiker, who took office in October 2001, remembered speaking at the first anniversary and said the memories are still vivid.
"It was here that freedom took its first stand," Schweiker said. "Today, this morning, again, we gather to reflect on the sacrifice that we've never forgotten. It's hard to believe that it's been 6,205 days since they defeated terror in the skies above, but as we know time has a tendency to stand still when loved one's are ripped from us, yet we continue to hold them so close to our heart.
"Back then we made a pact that we would never forget, and we never have."
Schweiker noted the presence of other public officials, including National Park Service leaders, and acknowledged former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who left the Pennsylvania statehouse to become the first Homeland Security secretary.
In the works for years, the Flight 93 Memorial was completed last weekend and features unique wind chimes that honor those who died.
"Each time were hear those chimes blowing in the wind we will remember the 40," Trump said.
Vice President Mike Pence attended a ceremony Tuesday at the third location, the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.
Like at the World Trade Center, the names of the 184 people who died at the Pentagon were read aloud. A wreath laying ceremony and a moment of silence were also observed.
"The Bible tells us that we're to mourn with those who mourn, and grieve with those who grieve. And today as a nation, we pause to do just that," Pence said.
The memorial at the Pentagon features 184 stone and steel benches -- each inscribed with the name of one who died -- outside the heavily fortified building, which sustained heavy damage from the crash of American Airlines Flight 77.
"Here, on the banks of the Potomac, we meet again in this place, where the names of our beloved fallen are recited, where they're carved into the steel and granite benches across these hallowed grounds, and will be remembered forever in the hearts of the American people," Pence added.
"Seventeen years ago today, America fell under attack. Nineteen radical Islamic terrorists seized control of four commercial airlines to strike the centers of our economy, our military, and our national government."
Others who attended at the Pentagon were Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.