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Ceremonies Mark Six Years Since Sept. 11 Terrorist Attacks

September 11, 2007 at 12:00 AM EDT

JIM LEHRER: And now, remembering the victims of 9/11 on this sixth anniversary. Ray Suarez begins with a report on today’s ceremonies.

RAY SUAREZ: Mourners gathering in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania today stood under gray skies, a stark contrast to the clear, sunny morning six years ago. Ground Zero is now a construction site, so this year’s ceremony was held for the first time at a small park near a corner of the site.

As in past commemorations, bells tolled. And at 8:46, there was the first of four moments of silence to mark when the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. In a part of the observance that’s already become a tradition, more silence was kept to mark when the second plane hit and when the north and south towers fell.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presided.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, Mayor of New York City: On that day, we felt isolated, but not for long and not from each other. New Yorkers rushed to this site, not knowing which place was safe or if there was more danger ahead. They weren’t sure of anything except that they had to be here. Six years have passed, and our place is still by your side.

RAY SUAREZ: People huddled under umbrellas and clutched photos of family members, as responders to the attack and recovery read the names of the 2,750 victims.

9/11 RESPONDER: Lisa Ann Frost…

9/11 RESPONDER: Peter Christian Fry…

9/11 RESPONDER: Clement A. Fumando…

Gathering in downtown Manhattan

RAY SUAREZ: While the ceremony was held nearby, city officials bowed to pressure from the victims' families and allowed them to descend a ramp down to the lowest level of the site to pay their respects. As the rain fell, young and old placed roses in a reflecting pool near the Twin Towers footprints.

Former mayor and presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani participated in the ceremony, despite criticism that his presence would politicize the event.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), Former Mayor of New York: On this day six years ago, and on the days that followed, in the midst of our great grief and turmoil, we also witnessed uncompromising strength and resilience as a people. It was a day with no answers but with an unending line of those who came forward to try to help one another.

RAY SUAREZ: In Washington, President Bush, with First Lady Laura Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney, and the entire White House staff held a moment of silence on the South Lawn.

A short while later at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Marine General Peter Pace paid tribute to the 184 people killed there. Secretary Gates said the 2001 attacks had stiffened U.S. military resolve.

ROBERT GATES, Secretary of Defense: And let there be no doubt that anyone wishing to revisit harm upon this country will find in the men and women of this department adversaries who have found clarity of purpose in their grief, a strength of resolve in their anger. The enemies of America, the enemies of our values and our liberty, will never again rest easy, for we will hunt them down relentlessly and without reservation.

Remembering United Flight 93

RAY SUAREZ: On the other side of the world, soldiers stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, lowered the American and Afghan flags.

At a temporary memorial for Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Governor Ed Rendell laid a wreath to honor the 40 passengers and crew members who were killed there.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, Homeland Security Secretary: Some people ask the question, do we have 9/11 fatigue? Has the time come to move on? I will tell you that, as long as I draw breath, I will not move on, and neither will the 208,000 people in my department or anybody else who is serving at every level of government protecting the people of this country.

Pentagon commemoration

RAY SUAREZ: 9/11 memorial events began earlier in the week. Last night, members of Congress gathered on the steps of the Capitol. And last week, families of those killed in the attack on the Pentagon donned hard hats to tour the two-acre site of a memorial currently under construction. The memorial will have 184 water basins and benches representing each of the victims and will be shaded by trees.

Thomas Heidenberger lost his wife on 9/11.

THOMAS HEIDENBERGER, Lost Wife on 9/11: In a nutshell, that one day was not just horrific. It was ugly. And you can't dwell on the ugliness of it, because if we did do that, it would consume us. So you have to take your energies, you have to take your focus, and not lie to yourself, but you have to have something positive come out of it. And if you look at the memorial, that is something very, very positive.

RAY SUAREZ: The Pentagon memorial is on schedule to be completed by next September.