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  • A woman wipes away tears as she stands next to the north pool prior to a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 at the National September 11 Memorial, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • A woman stands next to the north pool prior to a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 at the National September 11 Memorial, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Connie Dray of West Virginia holds a photo Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, of her cousin Mary Lou Hague, who died in the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as she stands near One World Trade Center while ceremonies marking the 18th anniversary were underway nearby. This was Dray's first time at the ceremonies, saying it was on her list of important things to accomplish, as she also close with Hague's family. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

  • A woman stands next to the north pool prior to a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 at the National September 11 Memorial, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Attending the ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 are, from left, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Tammy Murphy and her husband New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at the National September 11 Memorial, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • A woman pays respects at the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. after a Service of Remembrance Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, as the nation marks the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The Wall of Names honor the 40 people killed in the crash of Flight 93. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • Flowers rest on a bench bearing a name in memory of retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Gary Smith before a ceremony in observance of the 18th anniversary of the September 11th attacks at the Pentagon in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in a moment of silence honoring the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, at the Pentagon. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

  • Vice President Mike Pence, third from left, and second lady Karen Pence, fourth from left, are joined by President of Families of Flight 93, Gordon Felt, second from left, and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, left, in placing a wreath at the Wall of Names following the September 11th Flight 93 Memorial Service at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, the 18th anniversary of the attacks. Felt's brother Edward Felt was one of the 40 passenger and crew killed on Flight 93. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • The names are read of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks during a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary at the National September 11 Memorial, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • People walk past an American flag at the start of a work day, at the Oculus, part of the World Trade Center transportation hub in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • Louis Gonzalez makes a rubbing of his sister's name at the National September 11 Memorial, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in New York. Aida Rosario was killed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • People gather for a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 at the National September 11 Memorial, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • New York Fire Department members attend a second funeral service for FDNY firefighter Michael Haub in Franklin Square, N.Y., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

  • New York City firefighters salute in front of a memorial on the side of a firehouse adjacent to One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial site during ceremonies on the 18th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

  • Kiersten Haub, from left, Erika Starke, and Michael Haub, family members of New York firefighter Michael Haub, attend a second funeral service for him in Franklin Square, N.Y., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

  • Visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., participate in a sunset memorial service on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, as the nation prepares to mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • New York City firefighters take their positions in front of a memorial on the side of a firehouse adjacent to One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial site during ceremonies commemorating the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

  • New York Fire Department members attend a second funeral service for FDNY firefighter Michael Haub in Franklin Square, N.Y., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

  • In this Sept. 9, 2019 photo, the World Trade Center is shown in New York. Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 marks the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • A visitor to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., views the Wall of Names on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, as the nation prepares to mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • The Tribute in Light rises above the lower Manhattan skyline, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 in New York. Wednesday marks the 18th anniversary of the terror attacks against the United States of Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • New York City firefighters stand at attention in front of a memorial on the side of a firehouse adjacent to One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial site during ceremonies commemorating the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

  • A U.S. flag hanging from a steel girder, damaged in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, blows in the breeze at a memorial in Jersey City, N.J., Sept. 11, 2019 as the sun rises behind One World Trade Center building and the re-developed area where the Twin Towers of World Trade Center once stood in New York City on the 18th anniversary of the attacks. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

  • Visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., participate in a sunset memorial service on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, as the nation prepares to mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2001, file photo, smoke rises from the burning twin towers of the World Trade Center after hijacked planes crashed into the towers in New York City. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2001, file photo, firefighters work beneath the destroyed mullions, the vertical struts that once faced the outer walls of the World Trade Center towers, after a terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

  • Norma Molina, of San Antonio, Texas, leaves flowers by the names of firefighters from Engine 33 at the September 11 Memorial, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

  • Family members hold up photos during a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 at the National September 11 Memorial, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 10:10 am

18 years later, America vows to 'never forget' 9/11

KAREN MATTHEWS and JENNIFER PELTZ | Associated Press

NEW YORK – People who were too young on 9/11 to even remember their lost loved ones, and others for whom the grief is still raw, paid tribute with wreath-layings and the solemn roll call of the dead Wednesday as America marked the 18th anniversary of the worst terror attack on U.S. soil.

"Eighteen years. We will not forget. We cannot forget," Bud Salter, who lost his sister, Catherine, said at ground zero.

President Donald Trump laid a wreath at the Pentagon, telling victims' relatives: "This is your anniversary of personal and permanent loss."

"It's the day that has replayed in your memory a thousand times over. The last kiss. The last phone call. The last time hearing those precious words, 'I love you,'" the president said.

Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the third site where planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, Vice President Mike Pence credited the crew and passengers who fought back against the hijackers with protecting him and others in the U.S. Capitol that day.

"I will always believe that I and many others in our nation's capital were able to go home that day and hug our families because of the courage and selflessness of your families," said Pence, who was an Indiana congressman at the time. Officials concluded the attackers had been aiming the plane toward Washington.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when terrorist-piloted planes slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania.

After reading part of the long list of names, Parboti Parbhu choked up as she spoke from the ground zero podium about her slain sister, Hardai. Even after nearly two decades, "There's no easy way to say goodbye," she said.

By now, the heritage of grief has been handed down to a new generation, including children and young adults who knew their lost relatives barely or not at all.

Jacob Campbell was 10 months old when his mother, Jill Maurer-Campbell, died on 9/11.

"It's interesting growing up in a generation that doesn't really remember it. I feel a connection that no one I go to school with can really understand," Campbell, a University of Michigan sophomore, said as he attended the ceremony.

Like the families, the nation is still grappling with the aftermath of Sept. 11. The effects are visible from airport security checkpoints to Afghanistan, where the post-9/11 U.S. invasion has become America's longest war. The aim was to dislodge Afghanistan's then-ruling Taliban for harboring al-Qaida leader and Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Earlier this week, Trump called off a secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban and Afghan government leaders and declared the peace talks "dead." As the Sept. 11 anniversary began in Afghanistan, a rocket exploded at the U.S. Embassy just after midnight, with no injuries reported.

Al-Qaida's current leader used the anniversary to call for more attacks on the U.S. and other targets.

In New York, Nicholas Haros Jr., who lost his mother, Frances, reminded the audience of the al-Qaida attackers and tore into Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota over her recent "Some people did something" reference to 9/11.

"Our constitutional freedoms were attacked, and our nation's founding on Judeo-Christian values was attacked. That's what 'some people' did. Got that now?" he said to applause.

Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, has said she didn't intend to minimize what happened on Sept. 11, and accused critics of taking her words out of context. She tweeted Wednesday that "September 11th was an attack on all of us."

The dead included Muslims, as Zaheda Rahman underscored after reading names at ground zero. She called her uncle, Abul Chowdhury, a "proud Muslim-American man who lived his life with a carefree nature, a zeal for adventure and a tenacity which I emulate every single day."

Others made a point of spotlighting the suffering of firefighters, police and others who died or fell ill after being exposed to the smoke and dust at ground zero.

A compensation fund for people with potentially Sept. 11-related health problems has paid out more than $5.5 billion so far. More than 51,000 people have applied. Over the summer, Congress made sure the fund won't run dry. The sick also gained new recognition this year at the World Trade Center site, where a memorial glade was dedicated this spring.

Sept. 11 has become known also as a day of service. People around the country volunteer at food banks, schools, home-building projects, park cleanups and other community events around the anniversary.

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Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed.