NATO commemorates twentieth anniversary of 9/11 attacks on the United States
NATO commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States with a solemn ceremony on Saturday (11 September 2021). Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the U.S. Mission to NATO’s Chargé d’Affaires Douglas Jones were joined by members of the North Atlantic Council, and NATO’s diplomatic and military community for the act of remembrance.
Speaking at the Article 5 and 9/11 Memorial at NATO Headquarters, which consists of a twisted piece of the Twin Towers, the Secretary General paid tribute to the nearly 3,000 victims of the terrorist attacks. He said: “9/11 represents the worst of humanity, but it also brought out the best. From the first responders who went into those buildings, to the medics who saved countless of lives, and the ordinary men and women who helped their fellow citizens. Within 24 hours of the attack, NATO Allies invoked Article 5 for the first time, our mutual defence clause that states that an attack on one Ally is an attack on every Ally. Shortly after, NATO surveillance planes were patrolling American skies.”
Recalling that NATO later went into Afghanistan to prevent it from serving as a safe haven for terrorists, Mr Stoltenberg said that “over the past two decades, no terrorist attacks against NATO Allies have been organised from Afghanistan.” He added: “the fight against terrorism will continue, and NATO will continue to play its part, as the only place where Europe and North America come together every day for our shared security”. He stressed that Allies must continue to stand together in NATO, “because whatever happens, we are safer when we are united.”
To honour the victims of the 9/11 attacks and the sacrifices of service members since, flags flew at half-staff at NATO Headquarters, as well as at Allied Command Operations in Mons, Belgium, and at Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia.
The ceremony at NATO Headquarters included a moment of silence at 14:46 local time in Brussels, the exact minute of the first attack on the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York twenty years ago.