Today is 9/11: It’s Been 11 Years

 

Good morning all. It’s Kate Gilmour on this beautiful September 11th morning. We here are experiencing fall-like temperatures and some overcast skies. I have been thinking of the last eleven years since September 11th, and although things had gotten really dark there for a while, and the war lingered on for way too long, and the amount of deaths in war, I was still inspired to think about how we are still here and things are getting better and really beginning to look up for us. I’m not going to get political, but I have a lot of faith that we voters will make the right decision in November and continue to move America forward.

It’s also a good day to remember the men and women who perished that day, the officials who responded and the ones who lost their lives. It’s a good day to remember the troops overseas fighting. And it’s a good day to try and keep your American pride in tact.

So folks, do you remember where you were on the morning of 9/11? Did you watch it any of it live? Were you angry, sad, hurt or scared that day?

Those are the questions you often hear every September 11th. Since then we Americans have been warned of future attacks on any given September 11 – which has yet to happen. We’ve been given threats of attacks on New Year’s Day in Times Square – which also has yet to happen. We’ve been promised of terrorist’s reign for many generations to come. And lately the consensus are saying that the Al-Qaida are all but a fading memory. But it’s always good to stay on our toes and keep remembering what happened in 2001 and keep in mind that it can happen again any time and any place. But moreover, just remember those lives lost and those heroes.

Here are two current 9/11 related stories.

FOR SEPT. 11 ANNIVERSARY, A TURNING POINT PASSED?

FILE – In this Sept. 11, 2011 file photo, former U.S. President George W. Bush addresses those attending the 10th anniversary commemoration of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

NEW YORK (AP) — Is it time for a different kind of Sept. 11?

Victims’ families and others were poised to gather and grieve Tuesday at ground zero, the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa., for the first time after the emotional turning point of last year’s 10th anniversary.

And in New York, there was a sense that it was a season of change and moving forward for the ground zero ceremony. It followed a last-minute breakthrough on a financial dispute that had halted progress on the Sept. 11 museum, and the commemoration itself was to be different: For the first time, elected officials won’t speak at an occasion that has allowed them a solemn turn in the spotlight, but also has been lined with questions about separating the Sept. 11 that is about personal loss from the 9/11 that reverberates through public life.

To Charles G. Wolf, it’s a fitting transition.

“We’ve gone past that deep, collective public grief,” says Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, was killed at the trade center. “And the fact that the politicians will not be involved, to me, makes it more intimate, for the families. … That’s the way that it can be now.”

Political leaders still are welcome to attend the ground zero ceremony, and they are expected at the other commemorations, as well.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama plan to attend the Pentagon ceremony and visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar are expected to speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, at the site where the hijacked United Airlines plane went down.

Officeholders from the mayor to presidents have been heard at the New York ceremony, reading texts ranging from parts of the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address to poems by John Donne and Langston Hughes.

For former New York Gov. George Pataki, this year’s change ends a 10-year experience that was deeply personal, even as it reflected his political role. He was governor at the time of the attacks.

“As the names are read out, I just listen and have great memories of people who I knew very well who were on that list of names. It was very emotional,” Pataki reflected by phone last week. Among his friends who were killed was Neil Levin, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

But Pataki supports the decision not to have government figures speak.

“It’s time to take the next step, which is simply to continue to pay tribute,” Pataki said.

Click image to go to New World Centre Foundation

The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum – led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as its board chairman – announced in July that this year’s ceremony would include only relatives reading victims’ names.

The point, memorial President Joe Daniels said, was “honoring the victims and their families in a way free of politics” in an election year.

Some victims’ relatives and commentators praised the decision. “It is time” to extricate Sept. 11 from politics, the Boston Globe wrote in an editorial.

But others said keeping politicians off the rostrum smacked of … politics.

The move came amid friction between the memorial foundation and the governors of New York and New Jersey over financing for the museum – friction that abruptly subsided Monday, when Bloomberg and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement that paves the way for finishing the $700 million project “as soon as practicable.”

Before the deal, Cuomo, a Democrat, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, had signaled their displeasure by calling on federal officials to give the memorial a financial and technical hand. Some victims’ relatives saw the no-politicians anniversary ceremony as retaliation.

“Banning the governors of New York and New Jersey from speaking is the ultimate political decision,” said one relatives’ group, led by retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches. His firefighter son and namesake was killed responding to the burning World Trade Center.

Spokesmen for Christie and Cuomo said the governors were fine with the memorial organizers’ decision.

Of course, it’s difficult to remember 9/11 without remembering its impact on the nation’s political narrative.

After all, “9/11 has defined politics in America” since 2001, said Costas Panagopoulos, a Fordham University political science professor. “At the end of the day, 9/11 was a public tragedy that affected the nation as a whole.”

AL-QAIDA‘S NO. 2 IN YEMEN KILLED IN AIRSTRIKE

FILE – Saeed al-Shihri, deputy leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. (AP Photo/SITE Intelligence Group, File)

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — An airstrike killed al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader in Yemen along with six others traveling with him in one car on Monday, U.S. and Yemeni officials said, a major breakthrough for U.S.-backed efforts to cripple the group in the impoverished Arab nation.

Saeed al-Shihri, a Saudi national who fought in Afghanistan and spent six years in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, was killed by a missile after leaving a house in the southern province of Hadramawt, according to Yemeni military officials. They said the missile was believed to have been fired by a U.S.-operated, unmanned drone aircraft.

Two senior U.S. officials confirmed al-Shihri’s death but could not confirm any U.S. involvement in the airstrike. The U.S. doesn’t usually comment on such attacks although it has used drones in the past to go after al-Qaida members in Yemen, which is considered a crucial battleground with the terror network.

Yemeni military officials said that a local forensics team had identified al-Shihri’s body with the help of U.S. forensics experts on the ground. The U.S. and Yemeni military officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information to the media.

Late Monday, after speculation surfaced that the attack was carried by a U.S. drone, Yemen’s Defense Ministry issued a statement saying al-Shihri and six companions were killed during an operation by Yemeni armed forces in Wadi Hadramawt, but it did not elaborate on how they were killed.

Yemeni military officials said they had believed the United States was behind the operation because their own army does not the capacity to carry out precise aerial attacks and because Yemeni intelligence gathering capabilities on al-Shihri’s movements were limited.

A brief Defense Ministry statement sent to Yemeni reporters on their mobile phones earlier in the day only said that an attack had targeted the militants. It did not specify who carried out the attack or when it took place.

Al-Shihri’s death is a major blow to al-Qaida’s Yemen branch, which is seen as the world’s most active, planning and carrying out attacks against targets on and outside U.S. territory. The nation sits on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula and is on the doorstep of Saudi Arabia and fellow oil-producing nations of the Gulf and lies on strategic sea routes leading to the Suez Canal.

The group formally known as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula took advantage of the political vacuum during unrest inspired by the Arab Spring last year to take control of large swaths of land in the south. But the Yemeni military has launched a broad U.S.-backed offensive and driven the militants from several towns.

After leaving Guantanamo in 2007, al-Shihri, who is believed to be in his late 30s, went through Saudi Arabia’s famous “rehabilitation” institutes, an indoctrination program that is designed to replace what authorities in Saudi Arabia see as militant ideology with religious moderation.

But he headed south to Yemen upon release and became deputy to Nasser al-Wahishi, the leader of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Al-Wahishi is a Yemeni who once served as Osama bin Laden’s personal aide in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaida in Yemen has been linked to several attempted attacks on U.S. targets, including the foiled Christmas Day 2009 bombing of an airliner over Detroit and explosives-laden parcels intercepted aboard cargo flights last year.

Last year, a high-profile U.S. drone strike killed U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been linked to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting U.S. and Western interests, including the attempt to down a Detroit-bound airliner in 2009 and the plot to bomb cargo planes in 2010.

Unlike other al-Qaida branches, the network’s militants in Yemen have gone beyond the concept of planting sleeper cells and actively sought to gain a territorial foothold in lawless areas, mainly in the south of Yemen, before they were pushed back by U.S.-backed Yemeni government forces after months of intermittent battles. The fighting has killed hundreds of Yemeni soldiers.

The Yemen-based militants have struck Western targets in the area twice in the past 12 years. In 2000, they bombed the USS Cole destroyer in Aden harbor, killing 17 sailors. Two years later, they struck a French oil tanker, also off Yemen.

U.S. drone strikes have intensified in Yemen in recent months, killing several key al-Qaida operatives, including Samir Khan, an al-Qaida propagandist who was killed in a drone strike last year.