Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New York and Washington Turn Out to Honor the Dead

NEW YORK -- Americans bowed their heads in silence and bagpipes played mournful tunes Monday where hijackers crashed airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon five years ago, killing nearly 3,000 people in the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Ceremonies starting on Sunday night revived traumatic memories of the day when al-Qaida hijackers attacked New York's twin towers and the Pentagon in Washington and seized a fourth plane that crashed to the ground in Pennsylvania.

The anniversary has sharpened an election-year debate over whether the United States, caught in a vicious, unpopular conflict in Iraq, is any safer.

At the Pentagon, where 184 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, both lightning rods of criticism over the Iraq war, stood as bagpipes played "Amazing Grace."

Cheney called Sept. 11 "a day of national unity," then added: "We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power."

His comment seemed aimed at critics of U.S. war policies, coming two weeks after Rumsfeld angered Democrats by saying "some seem not to have learned history's lessons" and that some politicians had wanted to appease Hitler's Germany before World War II.

His approval ratings weighed down by the war, U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, stood at New York's Fort Pitt firehouse and bowed their heads for two moments of silence in New York, first at 8:46 a.m., the moment a plane flew into the north tower, and again at 9:03 a.m., when the south tower was hit.

Jarring images of that day -- smoke billowing from the towers, New Yorkers crying in the streets, debris falling from the darkened sky -- dominated U.S. television and newspapers.

At Ground Zero, where the 110-story towers pancaked to the ground, New York police and firefighters marched down a ramp into the pit for a solemn, flag-waving ceremony on a day of crisp, clear blue skies, eerily similar to Sept. 11 five years ago.

"Five years have come and gone, and we still stand together," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a crowd that included relatives of those who died.

Spouses and partners of victims read out the names of all 2,749 who died at the World Trade Center, where 25,000 people had worked.

Another 40 were killed when United Flight 93 crashed into the countryside at Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers revolted before it could hit its Washington target. Nineteen hijackers also died in the attacks.

Security officials were taking extra precautions. A United Airlines flight to San Francisco was diverted to Dallas after an unclaimed backpack and Blackberry e-mail device were found on board. The plane and its 50 passengers were searched again and cleared.

Al-Qaida warned in a video aired Monday that U.S. allies Israel and the Gulf Arab states would be its next target. The Islamic group's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, urged Muslims to step up attacks against the United States and the West, according to excerpts aired by CNN television. Osama bin Laden was nowhere to be seen. The Washington Post reported Sunday that the search for him had gone "stone cold."

Bush began his day at New York's Fort Pitt firehouse, which lost one firefighter on Sept. 11. Later he planned to attend ceremonies in Shanksville and at the Pentagon before addressing the nation from the Oval Office at 9 p.m.

The airplane attacks transformed Bush into a self-described war president and he received high marks from Americans for responding with attacks on al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.