Memorial service for 9/11 victims turns political with attack on Rep. Omar, call to end gun violence

TRIBUTE RUN: Members of the running club Red, White and Blue finish an 11k run at the Empty Skies Memorial at Liberty State Park in Jersey City in a tribute to those killed 18 years ago during the 9/11 attacks on Sept. 11, 2019. Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/TNS

NEW YORK (TNS) — Anguish mixed uncomfortably with advocacy at ground zero as mourners again filled the sacred space for the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with a memorial service both sadly familiar and freshly heartbreaking.

The typically nonpartisan remembrance of the 2,753 victims killed in the World Trade Center terrorist attack veered suddenly into the political Wednesday, with the son of a Sept. 11 victim ripping U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar shortly after the mother of a man killed in the Twin Towers called for an end to America’s continued gun violence.

Nicholas Haros Jr., whose 76-year-old mother, Frances, was among those slain on 9/11, blasted the first-term Minnesota Democrat after joining in the annual recitation of the victim’s names. He wore a black T-shirt with the words “Some people did something?” — a reference to Omar’s remark earlier this year about the morning when terrorists plowed a pair of hijacked planes into the Twin Towers.

“Today I am here to respond to you who exactly did what to whom,” said Haros, his voice rising. “Madam, objectively speaking, we know who and what was done. There is no uncertainty about that. Why your confusion? On that day, 19 Islamic terrorists, members of al-Qaida, killed over 3,000 people and caused billions of dollars in economic damage."

“Is that clear?” he asked to applause from the crowd of mourners, firefighters and cops. Afterward, he said Omar — who claims her words were taken out of context — owed the American people more than a callous off-the-cuff remark.

“At the minimum, the person elected by Americans should have sympathy for Americans,” he said. “And so far, I think that has been lacking.”

Debra Epps, speaking earlier, delivered a plea for tighter gun laws after invoking the name of her brother, Christopher, a 9/11 victim.

“This country — in 18 years, you would think it had made changes to bring us to more peace,” she said to applause. “However, gun violence has gone rampant. We can live in peace and hope in the land of the brave.”

The CDC reported last year that the U.S. had 14,542 gun homicides in 2017, along with another 23,854 gun suicides.

This year’s memorial came beneath blue skies reminiscent of the sunny September morning when the two 110-story buildings crumbled. The service gave the mourners a chance to revisit the 16 acres where the World Trade Center once rose above the rest of Manhattan’s skyline.

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