New terror fight casts shadow over 9/11 ceremonies

(AP) -- The nation's gathering war against a new upsurge in Islamic terror hung heavy over the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Thursday, stirring both anxiety and determination among those who

News 12 Staff

Sep 12, 2014, 12:47 AM

Updated 3,574 days ago

Share:

(AP) -- The nation's gathering war against a new upsurge in Islamic terror hung heavy over the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Thursday, stirring both anxiety and determination among those who came to ground zero to remember their loved ones.
The familiar silence to mark the attacks and the solemn roll call of the nearly 3,000 dead came just hours after President Barack Obama told the country he is authorizing stepped-up airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State extremists.
"It's an ongoing war against terrorists. Old ones die out and new ones pop up," Vasile Poptean said as he left the ceremony, where he had gone to remember his brother, Joshua Poptean. "If we don't engage them now, there's a possibility there will be another 9/11 down the road."
Victims' relatives and dignitaries gathered in the plaza where the twin towers once stood, an area of shimmering new skyscrapers, including the soon-to-open 1,776-foot One World Trade Center.
The attacks were also commemorated in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where former House Speaker Dennis Hastert gave the flag that flew atop the U.S. Capitol on 9/11 to the Flight 93 National Memorial.
At the Pentagon, where Obama spoke at a wreath-laying ceremony, he didn't mention the rise of Islamic State extremists specifically but noted: "We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world."
"That was the case before 9/11," the president said, "and that remains true today."
Obama's nationally televised announcement of his plans to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the militants, coming on the eve of the anniversary, sparked mixed feelings among 9/11 victims' relatives. Some saw it as a sign of determination, others as bad timing.
"We're all walking out the door today with tragic and sad and scary memories on us. ... It's an invitation to fight on a day where we lost," said Ellen Mora, who lost her cousin, Robert Higley. But she noted that her mother felt differently, seeing the speech as "us standing tall on the anniversary."
So did Tom Langer, who lost his pregnant sister-in-law, Vanessa Langer.
"Thirteen years later, it feels like the world is still paying attention," he said.
Still others lamented that the U.S. was still battling terrorists 13 years after the attacks.
"We're fighting for nothing. We lost so many already, and we will lose so many more," said Gary Lanham, whose father, Michael Lowe, died at the World Trade Center.
While little about the annual ceremony at ground zero has changed, much around it has.
When the underground National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum opened this spring, fences around the memorial plaza above it came down, making it more easily accessible to visitors and passers-through.
Still, "coming down to the area is rough," said Franklin Murray, who wore a shirt with a photo of his slain brother, Harry Glenn, to Thursday's ceremony.
Some victims' family members view the growing sense of normalcy around ground zero as a sign of healing.
"I want to see it bustling," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was the pilot of the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
Others said they fear the tragedy that took place in the neighborhood is being forgotten.
"Instead of a quiet place of reflection, it's where kids are running around," said Nancy Nee, who lost her firefighter brother, George Cain. "Some people forget this is a cemetery. I would never go to the Holocaust museum and take a selfie."
Around the country, observances were held in such places as Morrison, Colorado, where hundreds of people walked the equivalent of the twin towers' 110 stories by going up and down stairs at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and Point Lookout, New York, where two 18-foot, sand-covered towers were crafted in remembrance.
In New York City, some relatives who read the long list of names touched on the attacks' legacy.
In one family, two boys are named for an uncle they never met, financial worker Michael Wittenstein. In another family, 17-year-old Jordan Thompson joined the Marines in memory of his uncle, Leon Bernard Heyward, a city consumer affairs worker.
"In your honor," Thompson said, "I have decided to serve our country."
___
Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.


More from News 12
1:44
‘This program gave me changes’: Man embarks on cross-country bike trip to raise funds for Bridgeport nonprofit

‘This program gave me changes’: Man embarks on cross-country bike trip to raise funds for Bridgeport nonprofit

2:06
Partly cloudy and hot in Connecticut; humidity and thunderstorms expected Wednesday

Partly cloudy and hot in Connecticut; humidity and thunderstorms expected Wednesday

0:31
Darien police: Stamford school aide arrested, accused of assaulting 9-year-old boy with autism

Darien police: Stamford school aide arrested, accused of assaulting 9-year-old boy with autism

Missing Connecticut teen found in Montgomery, suspect arrested

Missing Connecticut teen found in Montgomery, suspect arrested

0:18
Bridgeport police: 25-year-old man hospitalized for gunshot wound to the head

Bridgeport police: 25-year-old man hospitalized for gunshot wound to the head

0:22
Good Samaritans help put out a fire in Norwalk

Good Samaritans help put out a fire in Norwalk

0:27
Summer food benefits delayed for thousands of Connecticut families

Summer food benefits delayed for thousands of Connecticut families

0:39
Report: Connecticut ranks among worst states for summer road trips

Report: Connecticut ranks among worst states for summer road trips

Made in Connecticut: Unger USA celebrates 60 years of cleaning up

Made in Connecticut: Unger USA celebrates 60 years of cleaning up

2:52
Bridgeport teen hit by car returns home after month-long hospitalization

Bridgeport teen hit by car returns home after month-long hospitalization

2:07
Person hospitalized after shooting in Fairfield

Person hospitalized after shooting in Fairfield

2:14
‘Political injustice.’ Bridgeport ballot fraud suspects challenge arrests

‘Political injustice.’ Bridgeport ballot fraud suspects challenge arrests

0:29
Arraignment held for Queens man accused of trying to drown his 2 children in West Haven

Arraignment held for Queens man accused of trying to drown his 2 children in West Haven

0:40
Supreme Court declines to hear appeal on Connecticut religious exemption for childhood vaccines law

Supreme Court declines to hear appeal on Connecticut religious exemption for childhood vaccines law

0:36
Elected officials, advocates mark 2nd anniversary of Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade

Elected officials, advocates mark 2nd anniversary of Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade

0:48
USDA and NOAA Fisheries open new Northeast oyster breeding center in Milford

USDA and NOAA Fisheries open new Northeast oyster breeding center in Milford

0:55
East Haven fire officials and doctors warn people of the dangers of leaving pets and children in hot cars

East Haven fire officials and doctors warn people of the dangers of leaving pets and children in hot cars

0:18
Man dies in fiery crash in Shelton

Man dies in fiery crash in Shelton

0:52
Protesters mar finish of Travelers Championship in Cromwell

Protesters mar finish of Travelers Championship in Cromwell

0:58
Dermatologist warns not to neglect these areas when applying sunscreen

Dermatologist warns not to neglect these areas when applying sunscreen