To the solemn lament of tolling bells and the mournful recitation of names of the fallen, Americans on Wednesday paused to commemorate the moment of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Memorial events unfolded at the site of the former World Trade Center, the White House, the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa., as the nation reflected on the 12th anniversary of the attacks by airliners commandeered by Al Qaeda that killed nearly 3,000 people.
As in past years, the ceremony at the site of the former Twin Towers began with a moment of silence and the ringing of a bell to mark the instant when the first jet hit the South Tower at 8:46 a.m. local time. Relatives of those killed then began the slow reading of names, a somber process punctuated by moments of silence and bell-ringing to mark the crashes of jets into the North Tower, the Pentagon and a rural field in Pennsylvania, as well as the collapse of each Trade Center tower.
Promptly at 8:46 a.m. in Washington, President Obama, joined by the First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, along with members of the White House staff, walked out to the South Lawn. The president later went to the Pentagon, where a jetliner struck at 9:37 a.m.
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