New terror fight casts shadow over 9/11 ceremonies

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New terror fight casts shadow over 9/11 ceremonies
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stand on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, as they observe a moment of silence to mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
A woman reaches out to touch rose on one of the benches of the Pentagon Memorial at the at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. President Barack Obama will attend the wreath laying later this morning to to mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and others, put their hands on their hearts during the playing of Taps on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, as they mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
As the American flag waves at half-staff on the anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks, workmen pause amid the scaffolding during repair work on the dome of the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Members of the New York Police Department, Fire Department of New York and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department carry an American flag at the beginning of the memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Andrew Burton, Pool)
The Tribute in Light rises behind buildings adjacent to the World Trade Center complex at the National September 11 Memorial, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in New York. The tribute, an art installation of 88 searchlights aiming skyward in two columns, is a remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
writes on a replica of a twin trade towers behind a sea of American flags during a memorial in Matthews, N.C., on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The 2,997 American flags are displayed for each person lost on Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Retired Matthews Fire Department Captain Dob Bobbitt walks past a sea of American flags during a memorial in Matthews, N.C., on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The 2,997 American flags are displayed for each person lost on Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
From left, President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, participate in a ceremony at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, to mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Paola Braut, of Belgium, cries over a photograph of her son Patrice along the edge of the North Pool during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Justin Lane, Pool)
Paola Braut, of Belgium, kisses a photograph of her son Patrice along the edge of the North Pool during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Justin Lane, Pool)
From left, President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Joints Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey bow their heads during a moment of silence at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, to mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
1 World Trade Center is reflected in the side of a building as Tyrone McClave, of Bristol, Penn., looks up at it during a moment of silence on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
A rose is left at the name of Michael Grady during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Robert Sabo, Pool)
White roses are placed in an inscribed name along the edge of the North Pool during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Justin Lane, Pool)
An American flag is placed in an inscribed name along the edge of the North Pool during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Justin Lane, Pool)
Janice Lynch, of Queens, pauses at the inscription of her friend Patricia Massani's name at the North Pool during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Justin Lane, Pool)
A woman pauses at the edge of the North Pool during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Justin Lane, Pool)
United States Navy veteran Richard Fill, of Easton, Penn., looks up at 1 World Trade Center during a moment of silence on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Police officers, rear, patrol a few blocks from the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site before a ceremony marking the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden stand during the playing of Taps on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington as they mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
A Marine bugler plays Taps as President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and others, stand on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, as they mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Flowers sit on one of the benches of the Pentagon Memorial at the at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. President Barack Obama will attend the wreath laying later this morning to to mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A woman walks with a child near United States flags with 1 World Trade Center, rear left, in the background, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. The country is observing the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A man places a flower on one of the benches of the Pentagon Memorial at the at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. President Barack Obama will attend the wreath laying later this morning to to mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Sam Pulia, mayor of Westchester, Ill., and a former police officer of the same town, salutes over the name of his cousin, New York firefighter Thomas Anthony Casoria, who was killed in the South Tower in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, prior to the the memorial observances held at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. This year marks the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Andrew Burton, Pool)
Sam Pulia, mayor of Westchester, Ill., and a former police officer of the same town, mourns over the name of his cousin, New York firefighter Thomas Anthony Casoria, who was killed in the South Tower in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, prior to the the memorial observances held at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. This year marks the 13th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Andrew Burton, Pool)
A firefighter looks at a memorial mural on the outside of firehouse Engine 10 Company 10 adjacent to the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. Three hundred forty three New York firefighters were killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Family members etch their loved one's names in paper prior to the memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Andrew Burton, Pool)
Members of the New York Police Department, Fire Department of New York and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department carry an American flag at the beginning of the memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Andrew Burton, Pool)
A woman cries prior to the memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Andrew Burton, Pool)
Residents and guests stand by a sea of American flags during a memorial in Matthews, N.C., on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The 2,997 American flags are displayed for each person lost in the attacks. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Sophia Demos carries her daughter Eleni Tsokanis, 1, as they walk past a sea of American flags during a memorial in Matthews, N.C., on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The 2,997 American flags are displayed for each person lost in the attacks. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
A memorial for firefighter Gerald T. Atwood is attached to an American flag in a sea of American flags during a memorial in Matthews, N.C., on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The 2,997 American flags are displayed for each person lost in the attacks. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Anthony DeBlase, left, and his mother Anita, right, hold the paper as Alexandra DeBlase rubs the name of their lost loved one James V DeBlase during memorial observances on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Robert Sabo, Pool)
United States Marine Corps veteran John Croft, right, leads a group of athletes through calisthenics at the end of the GORUCK 9/11 Tribute Challenge, a few blocks from 1 World Trade Center on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
A police counterterrorism officer stands a few blocks from the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site before a ceremony marking the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
A police K-9 unit stands a few blocks from the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site before a ceremony marking the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Storm clouds roll over 1 World Trade Center, center, seen from The Heights neighborhood of Jersey City, N.J., at sunrise, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. Thirteen years after 9/11 forever changed the New York skyline, officials say developments at the World Trade Center are on track and on budget. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Billy Joel lead motorcycle ride to Ground Zero, retracing route taken by firefighters on 9/11. Cuomo rides a black Harley-Davidson and Billy Joel rides a blue-and-white Drifter. The governor invited the rock star to lead the dozens of bikes from the Rescue 1 firehouse on W. 43rd St. to Ground Zero because 'he's the quintessential New York citizen who never forgot where he came from.' Joel told the Daily News that it was an honor to accept the firefighters' invitation to ride with them. The tribute ride stretched from Rescue 1 firehouse in midtown to the World Trade Center memorial plaza. Dozens rode toward Ground Zero on the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. (Photo By: Marcus Santos/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
Rocco Santillan, 6, holds a photo of his aunt, Maria Theresa Santillan, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, while sitting on the shoulders of his father, Victor Santillan, during memorial observances held at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. In New York, family members of those killed at the World Trade Center will read the names of the victims at a ceremony at ground zero. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan/Pool)
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By RACHELLE BLIDNER & JONATHAN LEMIRE

NEW YORK (AP) - The nation's gathering war against a new upsurge in Islamic terror hung heavy over the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Thursday, stirring both anxiety and determination among those who came to ground zero to remember their loved ones.

The familiar silence to mark the attacks and the solemn roll call of the nearly 3,000 dead came just hours after President Barack Obama told the country he is authorizing stepped-up airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State extremists.

"It's an ongoing war against terrorists. Old ones die out and new ones pop up," Vasile Poptean said as he left the ceremony, where he had gone to remember his brother, Joshua Poptean. "If we don't engage them now, there's a possibility there will be another 9/11 down the road."

Victims' relatives and dignitaries gathered in the plaza where the twin towers once stood, an area of shimmering new skyscrapers, including the soon-to-open 1,776-foot One World Trade Center.

The attacks were also commemorated in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where former House Speaker Dennis Hastert gave the flag that flew atop the U.S. Capitol on 9/11 to the Flight 93 National Memorial.

At the Pentagon, where Obama spoke at a wreath-laying ceremony, he didn't mention the rise of Islamic State extremists specifically but noted: "We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world."

"That was the case before 9/11," the president said, "and that remains true today."

Obama's nationally televised announcement of his plans to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the militants, coming on the eve of the anniversary, sparked mixed feelings among 9/11 victims' relatives. Some saw it as a sign of determination, others as bad timing.

"We're all walking out the door today with tragic and sad and scary memories on us. ... It's an invitation to fight on a day where we lost," said Ellen Mora, who lost her cousin, Robert Higley. But she noted that her mother felt differently, seeing the speech as "us standing tall on the anniversary."

So did Tom Langer, who lost his pregnant sister-in-law, Vanessa Langer.

"Thirteen years later, it feels like the world is still paying attention," he said.

Still others lamented that the U.S. was still battling terrorists 13 years after the attacks.

"We're fighting for nothing. We lost so many already, and we will lose so many more," said Gary Lanham, whose father, Michael Lowe, died at the World Trade Center.

While little about the annual ceremony at ground zero has changed, much around it has.

When the underground National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum opened this spring, fences around the memorial plaza above it came down, making it more easily accessible to visitors and passers-through.

Still, "coming down to the area is rough," said Franklin Murray, who wore a shirt with a photo of his slain brother, Harry Glenn, to Thursday's ceremony.

Some victims' family members view the growing sense of normalcy around ground zero as a sign of healing.

"I want to see it bustling," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was the pilot of the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

Others said they fear the tragedy that took place in the neighborhood is being forgotten.

"Instead of a quiet place of reflection, it's where kids are running around," said Nancy Nee, who lost her firefighter brother, George Cain. "Some people forget this is a cemetery. I would never go to the Holocaust museum and take a selfie."

Around the country, observances were held in such places as Morrison, Colorado, where hundreds of people walked the equivalent of the twin towers' 110 stories by going up and down stairs at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and Point Lookout, New York, where two 18-foot, sand-covered towers were crafted in remembrance.

In New York City, some relatives who read the long list of names touched on the attacks' legacy.

In one family, two boys are named for an uncle they never met, financial worker Michael Wittenstein. In another family, 17-year-old Jordan Thompson joined the Marines in memory of his uncle, Leon Bernard Heyward, a city consumer affairs worker.

"In your honor," Thompson said, "I have decided to serve our country."

Why We Continue To Memorialize 9/11


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