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Moment of silence as US marks September 11
A man leans over to kiss the inscribed name of his partner during ceremonies marking the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

NEW YORK: The 11th anniversary ceremony of the September 11 terror attacks has begun with a moment of silence to mark the moment that the first hijacked jetliner crashed into the World Trade Centre in 2001.

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and White House staffers observed a moment of silence on Tuesday on the White House south lawn in memory of the terrorist attacks.

With three bell tolls and a bugler playing taps, the White House observance marked the suicide hijackings that struck New York and the Pentagon and downed a plane in Pennsylvania, leaving nearly 3000 people dead.

Obama and the first lady also planned to attend an observance ceremony at the Pentagon later on Tuesday morning.

In the afternoon, the president was scheduled to visit wounded soldiers and their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre.

Vice President Joe Biden was traveling to Pennsylvania to deliver remarks at the Flight 93 National Memorial Commemorative Service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the fourth hijacked jetliner crashed.

The reading of the nearly 3000 victims' names in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania continued as usual this year. But many felt it was time to move forward after the emotional turning point of last year's 10th anniversary.

For the first time in New York, only family members were to speak at the anniversary ceremony. Elected officials had spoken in past years.

Jane Pollicino was among the 300 people who gathered on Tuesday morning at the September 11 memorial, which opened last year. She said there's less pressure during this year than the 10th year anniversary.