Four planes, 19 hijackers and 2,977 dead: even stripped down to the starkest of facts, the tragedy which took place on 11 September 2001 still has the power to shock. And so, on the 16th anniversary of the attacks on New York’s City World Trade Centre, everyone took a moment to remember the day that changed the face of America – and the world – forever.
On the anniversary, Donald Trump, as President of the United States, took it upon himself to share a video tribute to his infamous Twitter page. At first glance, the film plays out as you might expect: an American flag flies at half-mast over the White House, as Trump and the First Lady exit the White House to place a wreath of flowers on a display.
It eventually ends with Trump speaking at a podium, before turning to stare at the flag fluttering in the air behind him.
“May God forever bless the United States of America,” Trump captioned the video, alongside the hashtag #NeverForget911.
However, some believe there’s a problem with the video tribute.
Taking to Twitter, Jesse Lehrich – communications director at Organising for Action – has revealed how it could be seen as grossly inappropriate for Trump to use a mass tragedy as a form of self-promotion.
“Unreal,” he wrote angrily. “Now a ‘tribute’ video that’s entirely shots of Trump. No first responders, no memorial, nothing.”
And his tweet – which has been shared over 9,000 times and liked by almost 17,000 people – has sparked a wave of fury across the social networking site.
It is worth noting, at this point, that Trump did also deliver a speech at the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial observance, in which he did mention the victims and brave first responders.
“We’re gathered here today to remember a morning that started very much like this one,” he said. “Parents dropped off their children at school. Travellers stood in line at airports and getting ready to board flights. Here at the Pentagon and at offices all across the country, people began their early meetings.
“Then, our whole world changed. America was under attack. First at the World Trade Center, then here at the Pentagon, and then in Pennsylvania. The horror and anguish of that dark day were seared into our national memory forever.
“It was the worst attack on our country since Pearl Harbor and even worse because this was an attack on civilians – innocent men, women, and children whose lives were taken so needlessly.”
Trump continued: “For the families with us on this anniversary, we know that not a single day goes by when you don’t think about the loved ones stolen from your life.
“Today, our entire nation grieves with you and with every family of those 2,977 innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists 16 years ago.”
But, while he spoke of the “beloved Americans” lost that day, Trump also used his speech to praise his country’s “war” on the “barbaric forces of evil and destruction”. And people are understandably not happy about his sweeping and violent rhetoric.
“American forces are relentlessly pursuing and destroying the enemies of all civilized people, ensuring – and these are horrible, horrible enemies – enemies like we've never seen before,” he said.
“But we're ensuring they never again have a safe haven to launch attacks against our country. We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth.”
Trump has always been quick to cite “radical Islamic terrorism” for attacks in the past.
It took him less than a day to respond to terrorist attacks in Paris, Manchester, England, and London, the last of which he used as a reason to plug his proposal for a travel ban halting refugees from entering the USA, as well as immigrants from seven “majority-Muslim countries,” including Syria, Somalia, and Iran.
While his rhetoric on “radical Islam” is often violent and sweeping, Trump proved to be far more diplomatic about the white supremacist and racist groups who gathered for the rally in Charlottesville, claiming that many of them were “fine people.”
Images: Rex Features