On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed on America’s worst day of terrorism as 19 al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four passenger jetliners. Two planes smashed into New York’s World Trade Center, causing the twin towers to fall; one plowed into the Pentagon; and the fourth crashed into a field in western Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday night, two glorious beams of light will pierce the New York skyline where the Twin Towers used to be in remembrance of everyone who lost their lives on that fateful morning. It’s an occurrence that has become a staple on the anniversary.
Victims’ families and others will gather and grieve Tuesday at ground zero, the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa., for the first time after the emotional turning point of last year’s 10th anniversary.
The Tribute in Light shines above the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty, left, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, as seen from Bayonne, N.J. Tuesday will mark the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The tallest tower is 1 World Trade Center, now up to 105 floors. In the center is 4 World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The tribute will shine the night of Tuesday, Sept. 11 over New York, eleven years after the terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
People gather around a plaza to watch a test of the Tribute in Light over the World Trade Center, Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 in New York. The tribute will shine the night of Tuesday, Sept. 11 over New York, eleven years after the terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
An American flag is stuck into the etched name of Father Mychal F. Judge, the New York Fire Department chaplain who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, at the National September 11 Memorial in New York Monday, Sept. 12, 2011. The 9/11 memorial plaza opened to the public Monday for the first time. (AP Photo/Mike Segar, Pool)
One World Trade Center and the September 11 Memorial are ablaze in lights Friday, Sept. 9, 2011 in New York. Sunday will mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama plan to attend the Pentagon ceremony and visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar are expected to speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, at the site where the hijacked United Airlines plane went down.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta attended a touching memorial ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa on Monday. He called the site “the final resting place of American patriots” and expressed the nation’s debt to the heroes of flight 93.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta crosses himself after laying a wreath at the Flight 93 National Memorial during ceremonies commemorating the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on September 10, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN/POOL)
Forty luminaria are placed at the wall of names in memory of the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93 at the Flight 93 National Memorial at sunset on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 in Shanksville, Pa. Tuesday marks the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Visitors to the temporary Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa., participate in a sunset memorial service on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney plan to take down their negative ads in honor of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Neither planned to appear at overtly political events.
Perhaps the most obvious signal that the presidential campaign is on hold is that negative ads will be taken off the air, following precedent.
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-Qaida hijacked 11 years ago. Romney, meanwhile, is set to address the National Guard, whose members deployed as part of the U.S. response to the attacks.
Further, for the first time, elected officials won’t speak Tuesday at the Sept. 11 anniversary ceremony at ground zero. The change was made in the name of sidelining politics, but some have rapped it as a political move in itself.
Still, there will be no shortage of tributes to the victims of 9/11 on Tuesday. One memorial at Highland Memorial Park in Ocala, Florida, displays 2,741 American flags — one for each of the attacks’ victims. Another at Pepperdine University in California includes a flag from the nationality of each person killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Even young Indian students in Amritsar, India held a candlelit vigil and offered prayers ahead of the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Monday.
Children run among flags flying at Pepperdine University in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, Monday Sept.10, 2012 in Malibu, Calif. One flag from the nationality of each person killed that day was erected. The installation of flags has been an annual event since September 2011 and will remain on dispaly until the close of Pepperdine’s 75th anniversary celebrations on September 19. (AP Photo/David McNew)
Some 2,977 American flags representing each person killed in the attacks of September 11 decorate a lawn on the campus of Georgia Tech Institute of Technology Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, in Atlanta. Tuesday will mark the eleventh anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Young Indian students hold candles as they offer prayers ahead of the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, in Amritsar, India, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Prabhjot Gill)
And while the nation will mourn on this day, we will never forget.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.