The Most Visceral Photos From 9/11 Vigils Over The Years Will Make You Tear Up

by Seth Millstein

Monday is the 16th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, which claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people (and counting). Since then, there have been countless memorials in the United States and around the world to honor those who died as a result of the attacks, and the most visceral photos from 9/11 vigils are a reminder of how raw many of these wounds still are.

The attacks of Sept. 11 remain one of the most traumatic national events in America's political history. They claimed more lives than any other terrorist attack in U.S. history, and because many of those in the immediate vicinity became ill from debris and dust, the death toll from the attacks is still rising. Jim Melius, a doctor at the New York State Laborers Union, told the Guardian that by 2021, more folks will have died from health problems sustained during the attacks than did on Sept. 11, 2001.

In addition, the attacks of Sept. 11 directly led to the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The war in Afghanistan is still ongoing, and President Trump recently opted to send 4,000 additional U.S. troops to the country.

All of this is a long way of saying that although Sept. 11 happened 16 years ago, its effects continue to reverberate in the United States and around the world. It was the defining political event for an entire generation of Americans, and still casts a shadow over decisions political leaders make today.

This is why massive tributes to the victims of the attacks continue to be held year after year. Here are some of the most striking photos from those vigils.

Dahlonega, Georgia

The University of North Georgia holds a candlelight vigil for victims of 9/11 every year, and the turnout doesn't disappoint. This picture is from their 2016 memorial.

Fullerton, California

The students of Robert C. Fisler Elementary School hadn't yet been born when the attacks of Sept. 11 took place, but they took time Monday to commemorate the victims of the attacks regardless.

Brockport, New York

The Brockport Volunteer Fire Department also honors the victims of Sept. 11 every year with a vigil. According to CNN, 343 members of the New York City Fire Department died on the day of the attacks, and fire departments around the country often hold memorials in shows of solidarity.


Americans aren't the only ones holding 9/11 memorials. Israel and the United States have been close political allies for the past seven decades, and the Jewish state has a permanent memorial dedicated to the attacks' victims. A tribute was held Monday to honor them.

Tehran, Iran

Given the current state of U.S.-Iranian relations, it's easy to forget that in 2001, thousands of Iranians held a 9/11 tribute in Tehran days after the attacks. It was a remarkable show of solidarity from a country that's often considered an "enemy" of the United States, and proof that even countries with poor geopolitical relations can support one another in times of crisis and tragedy.

Brooklyn, New York

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Brooklyn paid tribute to the victims of 9/11 on Monday as well.

Mansfield, Pennsylvania

Students at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania held a candlelight vigil in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Aurora, Illinois

Alumni of Aurora University in Illinois held a 9/11 vigil on Monday afternoon.

Indianapolis, Indiana

In preparation for its 9/11 memorial on Monday, University of Indianapolis allowed attendees to create their own luminary bags, complete with a custom message and interior light, to display at the event.

The scars that Sept. 11 left will never go away, but communal remembrance of the tragedy and its victims have proven to be a time-honored way of making those wounds a little bit less painful.