Washington: Eleven years after terrorist attacks destroyed New York World Trade Center`s twin towers, thousands gathered Tuesday at ground zero and elsewhere to mark the traumatic event in sombre ceremonies sans politicians.
In the midst of a heated election campaign, both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney have decided to steer away from any political talk in a simple gesture of homage to the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Obama has scheduled a moment of silence at the White House and a trip to the Pentagon, the target of one of four planes al Qaeda hijacked 11 years ago.
Romney, meanwhile, is set to address the National Guard, whose members deployed as part of the US response to the attacks.
Vice President Joe Biden, who grew up in Scranton Pennsylvania, is expected to attend a memorial service at Shanksville in the same state where 40 passengers aboard United Flight 93 were killed when that plane crashed as they revolted against their hijackers.
At the Pentagon outside of Washington, where more than 180 were killed when a hijacked plane was flown into it, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will speak in a ceremony that will be closed to the public, attended only by victims` families.
In previous years, politicians including presidents, state governors and New York City mayors have participated in the reading of the names, or have read from the Bible or recited passages from literature, at commemoration ceremonies in the United States.
This year, only the families of the more than 2,750 who were killed when militant Islamist hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center`s Twin Towers, causing their collapse, will appear on the podium to read their names.
Six years since construction began the tower known as 1 WTC will soon surpass the height of the Empire State Building`s roof. It is scheduled for completion in 2014, with 90 floors and 3 million square feet.
"US Struggles With How To Remember 9/11" said USA Today commenting on the low key ceremonies this year noting that while the "attacks still elicit sadness, anxiety and anger for many" most Americans according to a new American Pulse Survey "have moved on".