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US marks 14th anniversary of September 11 attacks

Published 11/09/2015

A visitor at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (AP)
A visitor at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (AP)

Victims' relatives have been marking the 14th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in a subdued gathering at Ground Zero in New York, with a moment of silence and sombre reading of names.

Hundreds of relatives - fewer than thronged the ceremonies in their early years - gathered, carrying photos emblazoned with the names of their loved ones as they remembered the day when hijacked planes hit the World Trade Centre's twin towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

"We come every year. The crowds get smaller, but we want to be here. As long as I'm breathing, I'll be here," said Tom Acquaviva, 81, who lost his son Paul, a systems analyst who died in the World Trade Centre's north tower.

For Nereida Valle, who lost her daughter, Nereida De Jesus, "It's the same as if it was yesterday. I feel her every day."

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stepped out of the White House at 8.46am - when the first plane hit the north tower - to observe a moment of silence.

The Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville in western Pennsylvania was marking the completion of its visitor centre, which opened to the public on Thursday. At the Pentagon, defence secretary Ash Carter and other officials joined remembrances for victims' relatives and Pentagon employees.

After years of private commemorations at Ground Zero, the anniversary has also become an occasion for public reflection on the site of the terror attacks.

About 20,000 people flocked to the memorial plaza on the evening of September 11 last year, the first year the public was able to visit on the anniversary.

"When we did open it up, it was just like life coming in," National September 11 Memorial and Museum president Joe Daniels said this week. While the memorial will be reserved for victims' relatives and other invitees during the morning ceremony, afterwards "the general public that wants to come and pay their respects on this most sacred ground should be let in as soon as possible".

An unidentified man takes photos before sunrise at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial September 11, 2015, on the 14th anniversary of the 911 attacks. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDSPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
An unidentified man takes photos before sunrise at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial September 11, 2015, on the 14th anniversary of the 911 attacks. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDSPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter places a wreath at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial on September 11, 2015, on the 14th anniversary of the 911 attacks. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDSPAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
(R-L) Former New York Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani attend the 14th Anniversary ceremony of the terrorist attacks at the 9/11 memorial on September 11, 2015 in New York. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
The US flag flies at half-staff at the White House in Washington, DC, September 11, 2015, to mark the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
ARLINGTON, VA - SEPTEMBER 11: Herb Wolk of Columbia, Maryland, touches the bench that is dedicated to his son-in-law Lt. Darin H. Pontell, who lost his life during the 9/11 Pentagon attack, prior to an observance ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial September 11, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. The nation remembered the lives that were lost in the 9/11 attacks on its 14th anniversary. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 11, 2015, to mark the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
ARLINGTON, VA - SEPTEMBER 11: Betsy Wolk (L) and her husband Herb Wolk (R) of Columbia, Maryland, remember their son-in-law Lt. Darin H. Pontell, who lost his life during the 9/11 Pentagon attack, prior to an observance ceremony at the Pentagon Memorial September 11, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. The nation remembered the lives that were lost in the 9/11 attacks on its 14th anniversary. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 11: US President Barack Obama participates in a moment of silence to mark the 14th anniversary of the 911 terror attacks, on the South Lawn of the White House on September 11, 2015 in Washington, DC. Today marks the fourteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks when terroristists high jacked airliners and flew them in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 11: US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama participate in a moment of silence to mark the 14th anniversay of the 911 terror attacks, at the White House on September 11, 2015 in Washington, DC. Today marks the fourteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks when terroristists high jacked airliners and flew them in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Flowers are laid at the 9-11 Memorial site on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: A man stands in a moment of silence at the 9-11 Memorial site on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Flowers are laid at the 9-11 Memorial site on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: One World Trade Center is seen through early morning clouds on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: One World Trade Center is seen through early morning clouds on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Paul Bloess, of Levittown, NY, holds his son, Maxavater Bloess, age 10, in a moment of silence at the 9-11 memorial site on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: (L-R) Zachary Ellicott, a firefighter in Stanhope, NJ, Mitch Ellicott, a lieutenant with the Sussex County Sherrif's office and father to Zach and Benjamin, and Benjamin Ellicott, a firefighter in Stanhope, NJ, take a moment to remember a family member lost in the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: A man stands in a moment of silence at the 9-11 Memorial site on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Members of the New York Police department attend a rehearsal at the 9/11 memorial before the ceremony to commemorate the 14th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks, on September 11, 2015 in New York. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Gerard Chipura, a captain with the Fire Department of New York, takes a moment to remember a his brother who was killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: An American flag sits posted at the 9-11 Memorial site on September 11, 2015 in New York City. Today marks the 14th anniversary of the attacks where nearly 3,000 people were killed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - SEPTEMBER 11: Pentagon personnel unfurl a large American flag on the west side of the Pentagon September 11, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. The nation remembered the lives that were lost in the 9/11 attacks on its 14th anniversary. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 11: A man jogs past a row of American flags that have been lowered to half staff on the Washington Monument grounds, near the US Capitol on September 11, 2015 in Washington, DC. Today marks the fourteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks when terroristists high jacked airliners and flew them in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VA - SEPTEMBER 11: Pentagon personnel unfurl a large American flag on the west side of the Pentagon September 11, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. The nation remembered the lives that were lost in the 9/11 attacks on its 14th anniversary. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: National Park Service rangers wait for family members of the crash victims and dignitaries at the visitor center at the Flight 93 National Memorial on September 10, 2015 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The newly opened $26 million visitor center complex was dedicated in honor of the victims of Flight 93 on the evening of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Family members and dignitaries brave the rain at the visitor center at the Flight 93 National Memorial on September 10, 2015 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The newly opened $26 million visitor center complex was dedicated in honor of the victims of Flight 93 on the evening of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10:Somerset County Coroner Wally Miller braves the rain to look out over the grounds at the visitor center at the Flight 93 National Memorial on September 10, 2015 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The newly opened $26 million visitor center complex was dedicated in honor of the victims of Flight 93 on the evening of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA- SEPTEMBER 10: US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell speaks at the visitor center at the Flight 93 National Memorial on September 10, 2015 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The newly opened $26 million visitor center complex was dedicated in honor of the victims of Flight 93 on the evening of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Guests brave the rain at the visitor center at the Flight 93 National Memorial on September 10, 2015 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The newly opened $26 million visitor center complex was dedicated in honor of the victims of Flight 93 on the evening of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Family members and dignitaries brave the rain at the visitor center at the Flight 93 National Memorial on September 10, 2015 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The newly opened $26 million visitor center complex was dedicated in honor of the victims of Flight 93 on the evening of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
SHANKSVILLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Family members and dignitaries brave the rain at the visitor center at the Flight 93 National Memorial on September 10, 2015 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The newly opened $26 million visitor center complex was dedicated in honor of the victims of Flight 93 on the evening of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Family mambers copy the names of loved ones at a ceremony at the Fire Department of New York headquarters where names were added to a memorial wall for deaths related to World Trade Center illnesses on September 8, 2015 in New York City. A total of 21 names were added to the memorial which was unveiled in September 2011 and already lists the names of 89 FDNY members who died of illnesses related to their work at the World Trade Center site during and after the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
SHANKSVILLE, PA- SEPTEMBER 10:The view at the visitor center at the Flight 93 National Memorial on September 10, 2015 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The newly opened $26 million visitor center complex was dedicated in honor of the victims of Flight 93 on the evening of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Retired Charlotte Fire Department Capt. Tony Bateman holds his niece, Lila Grace Nobles, 3, after helping place 2,997 Flags of Remembrance, at Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte, N.C., in honor of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The event is sponsored by the Firefighter Steven Coakley Foundation, in memory of Coakley a New York City firefighter who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack at the World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Family mambers photograph the names of loved ones at a ceremony at the Fire Department of New York headquarters where names were added to a memorial wall for deaths related to World Trade Center illnesses on September 8, 2015 in New York City. A total of 21 names were added to the memorial which was unveiled in September 2011 and already lists the names of 89 FDNY members who died of illnesses related to their work at the World Trade Center site during and after the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Firefighters and family attend a ceremony at the Fire Department of New York headquarters where names were added to a memorial wall for deaths related to World Trade Center illnesses on September 8, 2015 in New York City. A total of 21 names were added to the memorial which was unveiled in September 2011 and already lists the names of 89 FDNY members who died of illnesses related to their work at the World Trade Center site during and after the 9/11 attacks. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani testifies at a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security hearing at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum on September 8, 2015 in New York City. The hearing, titled "Beyond Bin Laden's Caves and Couriers to a New Generation of Terrorists: Confronting the Challenges in a Post 9/11 World," focused on global Islamic extremism, cyber security and the President Obama's Iran deal. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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