Juan Torres wasn't old enough to remember his uncle, Luis, "but after all the stories I heard, I knew he was a good man. Although he threw himself from the building, I know God was waiting for him below and caught him in his arms."
Like 2001, this Sept. 11 was on a Tuesday, for the second time since the attacks. The cloudless blue sky and brisk, early fall weather recalled the morning of 2001.
Other ceremonies were held across the country — from New York's Long Island, where hundreds wrote messages to their loved ones on a memorial, to Boston, where more than 200 people with ties to Massachusetts were remembered. Two of the hijacked airliners took off from Boston's Logan Airport.
But other cities changed the way they remembered. The New York City suburb of Glen Rock, N.J., where 11 victims lived, did not hold an organized memorial for the first time in a decade. Past commemorations often ran for several hours, with family laying roses in front of a granite memorial built with remnants of the twin towers' steel.
"It was appropriate for this year — not that the losses will ever be forgotten," said Brad Jordan, chairman of a Glen Rock community group that helps victims' families. "But we felt it was right to shift the balance a bit from the observance of loss to a commemoration of how the community came together to heal."
Several people attending the ceremonies were related to soldiers who fought in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed 9/11, where the U.S. military death toll years ago surpassed the 9/11 victim count. Elna Tullock, whose son, Hassan Carter, is completing his second tour in Afghanistan and served another two in Iraq, admired the rising One World Trade Center tower.
"This is all connected," she said, pointing to a picture of her son and the tower before her.
Allied military forces marked the anniversary at a short ceremony at NATO's headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan with a tribute to more than 3,000 foreign troops killed in the decade-long war. "Eleven years on from that day there should be no doubt that our dedication to this commitment, that commitment that was seared into our souls that day so long ago, remains strong and unshaken," said Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and coalition troops.
At least 1,987 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan and 4,475 in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.
In Norfolk, Va., about 1,100 sailors and Marines aboard the USS New York, a warship forged with 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the trade center, listened to "Proud to be an American" and observed moments of silence for the moments the airliners hit their targets and read the death toll out loud.
"We often tell people, it's not just about that one day," said Capt. John Kreitz, the USS New York's commanding officer. "The spirit here is really about what happened the next day and the next day and every day since."
Associated Press writers Verena Dobnik and Alex Katz in New York, Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, N.J., Katie Zezima in Middletown, N.J., Steven R. Hurst in Washington, Joe Mandak in Shanksville, Pa., Brock Vergakis in Norfolk, Va., and Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.
Follow Jennifer Peltz at twitter.com/jennpeltz
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