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US ceremonies honor 9/11 anniversary
President Obama and first lady visit Pentagon crash site to commemorate September 2001 attack on American soil.
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2012 01:31
Barack Obama and Leon Panetta, US defence secretary, attended Tuesday's ceremony at the Pentagon [Reuters]

Americans have paused to mark the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks, but some say it is time to move forward after a decade of remembrance.

Hundreds gathered on Tuesday at the World Trade Center site in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to read the names of nearly 3,000 victims killed in the worst terror attack in US history.

"Our country is safer, and our people are resilient," President Barack Obama said in a ceremony on the White House's south lawn.

He and first lady Michelle Obama laid a white floral wreath at the Pentagon, above a concrete slab that said "Sept. 11, 2001 - 9:37 am".

But many felt that last year's 10th anniversary was an emotional turning point for public mourning.

For the first time this year, elected officials were not speaking at the New York ceremony.

"I feel much more relaxed'," said Jane Pollicino, who came on Tuesday to remember her husband, killed 11 years ago.

"It's another anniversary that we can commemorate in a calmer way, without that 10-year pressure.''

Thousands attended the ceremony in New York in previous years, including last year's milestone 10th anniversary. Yet fewer than 500 family members had gathered by Tuesday morning.

Regular weekday

As bagpipes played at the year-old September 11 memorial in New York, families bowed their heads in silence at 8:46 am, the moment that the first hijacked jet liner crashed into the trade centre's north tower, and again to mark the crashes into the second tower, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

More than four million people have visited the new memorial in the past year.

Much of Manhattan's business district bustled on Tuesday like a regular weekday, except for clusters of police and emergency vehicles on the borders of the site.

Joe Torres, who put in 16-hour days on the site in the days after the attacks, cleaning up tons of debris, said another year has changed nothing for him.

"The 11th year, for me, it's the same as if it happened yesterday. It could be 50 years from now, and to me, it'll be just as important as year one, or year five or year 10," said Torres.

The Obamas later visited wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre.

Other ceremonies were held across the country, but some cities scaled back.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum, a $700m-plus project, was initially to open this year, but is on hold for another year after a dispute over financing between the foundation and the government agency that owns the site.

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