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'The actions of an enemy revealed the spirit of people': Bush praises Flight 93 victims
11 September 2021, 16:35 | Updated: 11 September 2021, 16:42
Former US President George W. Bush spoke near the crash sight of flight 93, telling Americans: "today we remember your loss, and share your sorrow."
He told a gathering of relatives and friends of victims, survivors and politicians "it is hard to describe the mix of feelings" that the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 brings.
He described the aftermath of the terror attack, which killed 2,977 people: "There was horror at the trail of destruction, and awe at the bravery and kindness that rose to meet it."
In a moving address he paid tribute to first responders, ordinary citizens who performed acts of bravery, and those who joined the US army following the terror attack.
"It would be a mistake to idealise the experience of those terrible events," he said, stressing the importance of remembering those aboard flight 93.
The former president was in office from 2001 until 2009.
Flight 93 was the fourth plane hijacked by terrorists aligned with terror group Al Qaida.
Four terrorists hijacked the plane, but passengers and crew on board used a drinks trolley to barge into the pilot's cabin and wrest back control.
It is believed that the plane was heading for Washington, but those on board crashed it in a field in Pennsylvania instead, hitting the ground at 500mph.
The former President added: "Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil."
Everyone on board the plane died in the crash.
He said that on September 11 2001: "We saw that Americans were vulnerable, but not fragile."
It follows a day of commemorations in the US, involving the reading out of all those known to have died in the attack, six separate minutes of silence and a symbolically torn US flag.
Commemorations have taken place at Ground Zero, the site of the former World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Opening the ceremony in New York was father of flight attendant Sara Low, who was aboard the first plane to hit the towers, Mike Low. He described his pride in her actions, as well as his grief.
"A father’s pride in a daughter’s selfless acts in the last moments of her life, acting with heroic calm, to help those in the air, and those on the ground.
"A legacy from Sara that burns like an eternal flame."
Sara had memorised the call card details of the flight, enabling her fellow flight attendant to call crews on the ground and relay vital information, while Sara herself gathered medical supplies.
The former president also addressed ongoing terror threats to the US: "We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across our borders, but from violence that gathers within."
He said that the US is "forever grateful" to the armed forces, adding: "Nothing can tarnish your honour or diminish your accomplishments.
"To you and the honoured dead, our country is forever grateful."
This comes after many in the western world criticised the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, allowing the Taliban to take over the country in a matter of weeks.