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Obamas to attend 9/11 commemorations

August 02, 2011|By Michael Muskal | Los Angeles Times

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, will attend the 10th-anniversary commemoration of the three 9/11 terrorist attacks that reshaped U.S. foreign policy, the White House announced Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in a televised briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the Obamas will visit New York City, where the World Trade Center was destroyed. They and Vice President Joe Biden will also attend the ceremony in Shanksville, Pa., and the Obamas will appear at the Pentagon commemoration as well.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists associated with Al Qaeda hijacked four passenger airliners. They crashed two of the craft into the World Trade Center, and its twin towers collapsed within hours. A third airliner crashed into the Pentagon, and the fourth, apparently bound for the nation’s capital, crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers tried to regain control of the plane.

Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks, which led to the George W. Bush administration’s war on terror and the invasion of Afghanistan, and was a contributing factor to the events that led to the war in Iraq. The Obama administration has been withdrawing troops from both theaters.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden became a hunted man after the attacks. In May, the United States killed Bin Laden in a raid on his compound in Pakistan.

At the ceremonies in September, the Obamas are to pay tribute to those killed on 9/11, including the emergency personnel who were lost in first-response efforts. The president will also honor the members of the military who have served in the wars, the White House said.

New York officials had previously announced that they were planning a major event for the 10th anniversary.

In addition to the Obamas, former President Bush, whose popularity in office reached its height in the wake of the attacks, is expected to attend. Former  New York Gov. George E. Pataki and Rudolph W. Giuliani, who became the nation’s most famous mayor for the way he handled the attack and its aftermath in New York, are also scheduled to attend.

“This cannot be political,” current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in announcing the commemoration. “No speeches whatsoever. It’s not an appropriate thing.”

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