Sept. 11 (UPI) -- With prayers, bagpipes, candles and optimism, U.S. allies held ceremonies on Saturday commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
In the Canadian capital of Ottawa, a moment of silence was observed followed by bagpipes, CBC News reported. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflected upon the thousands of people lost in the attack, including 24 Canadians, at an event in Mississauga, Ontario.
"That reminds us that over these past years and continuing today into the future, we all need to stand together -- against intolerance, hatred, racism and Islamophobia," he said.
Queen Elizabeth marked the anniversary with a message to President Joe Biden saying her thoughts and prayers were with the victims, survivors and their families, reports the BBC. She also recognized the "resilience and determination of the communities who joined together to rebuild."
A private service was organized by the September 11 UK Families Support Group in central London to remember the 67 British victims of the attack. After sunset, 67 candles were expected to be lit in the garden to remember them, according to the BBC.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a video posted to Twitter that while the terrorists imposed "their burden of grief and suffering," the attack "failed to shake our belief in freedom and democracy."
U.S. service members, veterans and German civilians observed the anniversary at a ceremony at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, reports Stars and Stripes.
Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, commander of the Third Air Force, stood against a backdrop of a giant U.S. flag and hundreds of firefighters' helmets and other equipment. He recalled seeing a New York City firefighter pulling a U.S. flag out of the rubble at Ground Zero and passing it to a hand waiting above.
"That hand waiting above was an American soldier, who said five words: 'I've got it from here,'" said Reed. The U.S. military carried the flag forward to Afghanistan and has now brought it home, he said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement that "9/11 was not only an attack on the United States, it was an attack on us all." He also said the event witnessed the worst of humanity but also brought out the best.
"From the first responders who ran into the buildings as everyone else was running out, to the medical staff who saved so many lives, to the ordinary men and women who did everything they could to help their fellow citizens," he said.
NATO and other U.S. allies responded to 9/11 with an invasion of Afghanistan ousting the Taliban who were hosting al-Qaida, the terrorist group behind the attacks. Although the Taliban have retaken Afghanistan after the United States and NATO pulled out the country last month, Stoltenberg pointed to gains made. He said Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for al-Qaida and a new generation of Afghans grew up in relative freedom.
"Those gains cannot be easily reversed," he said.