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Sept. 11 Anniversary: With Somber Rituals, Nation Marks 14 Years Since Attacks

9/11 Anniversary: Remembering the Victims 14 Years Later 2:06

The nation paused Friday for rituals of somber reflection to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

At ground zero in Lower Manhattan, families of the lost gathered for a touchstone of the annual remembrance — the reading of the names of the almost 3,000 people killed there 14 years ago.

For the first time, the ceremony took place in the shadow of full rebirth: One World Trade Center, the 1,776-foot tower that rose where two fell, opened for business less than a year ago.

At the memorial, relatives set roses inside the letters, carved in bronze, that spell out the names of the lost. Some laid sheets of paper on top and made pencil etchings.

Photo Gallery: Nation Honors Victims of Sept. 11 Attacks

The public memorial at the site was reserved for the families during the morning but opened to everyone later in the day. An estimated 20,000 people gathered there on the night of Sept. 11 last year.

Obama Shares Memories of 9/11 on Anniversary 2:52

At the White House, President Barack Obama walked onto the South Lawn and bowed his head for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the moment 14 years ago when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. A trumpeter played taps.

The president later traveled to Fort Meade, Maryland, to recognize the work of the military. He was asked at a soldiers' town hall meeting there for his personal memories of Sept. 11. Obama, then a state senator in Illinois, recalled hear first word of the attacks on the radio as he drove to downtown Chicago for a hearing.

That night, he remembered, he rocked daughter Sasha, then 3 months old, to sleep while watching news of the attacks.

"It gave you a sense, for the first time in my lifetime, that our homeland could be vulnerable in that way," Obama said. "We hadn’t seen an attack like that since Pearl Harbor. And I think it inspired all of us to remember just how precious what we have is. And the need for us to defend it at any cost."

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter led a commemoration at the Pentagon.

“We will never forget, though, try as we may, we can never fully know how you feel on this solemn day," he told loved ones of the 184 people killed there. "But we do know what the lives of your loved ones mean to this community and to our country. And I hope you know that by returning here to the Pentagon each year, you set an example of strength and resilience for all of us."

Special Report: President Obama Remembers Sept. 11 3:47

At the national memorial site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed, the visitor center opened Thursday.

Ceremonies were planned in places all over the country. A sculpture was to be dedicated in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The Statehouse in Ohio planned to display almost 3,000 flags. A Chicago high school planned to serve breakfast to police and firefighters.