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Six Months Later

March 11, 2002 at 12:00 AM EDT


SPENCER MICHELS: The memorials began in New York just before 8:46 A.M., the precise moment the first jetliner plowed into the World Trade Center’s north tower on September 11.

Except for the faint sound of church bells, it was as if the city fell silent to remember. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg presided over a crowd of several hundred gathered in Battery Park, just blocks from ground zero. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who led the city through the first four months following the attacks, was also there.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI, Former Mayor, New York: This was the worst violation of America in our history, and in the moments that it was taking place and thereafter for some time I wondered , could we endure it, could we handle it, could we get through it?

And shortly after, during the first day, I realized that your loved ones gave us the example on which we would build. I realized that we had won the war against terrorism on that first day.

SPENCER MICHELS: New York officials also dedicated a steel and bronze sculpture as a temporary memorial to the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attack.

Since 1971, the sculpture, by Fritz Koenig, had stood in the World Trade Center Plaza as a tribute to world peace through trade. Called “The Sphere,” it was damaged, but not destroyed, when the World Trade Towers crumbled. 17 minutes after the first silence, there was another to mark the moment when the second hijacked plane struck the south tower.

The tolling of a New York Fire Department bell broke the silence.

SPENCER MICHELS: In Washington, more than 1,300 people gathered on the White House south lawn to mark the day. About 300 families who lost relatives in the attacks and more than 100 ambassadors representing U.S. war allies joined President Bush.

SPENCER MICHELS: After the silence, the President made an impassioned speech urging nations to rid themselves of terrorists. He also spoke about the next phase in the war on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Gathered here today, we are six months along– a short time in a long struggle. In our war on terror, we’d be judged by its finish, not by its start. Every nation should know that for America the war on terror is not just a policy, it’s a pledge.

I will not relent in this struggle for the freedom and security of my country and the civilized world. And we’ll succeed. I see a peaceful world beyond the war on terror, and with courage and unity, we are building that world together. Any nation that makes an unequivocal commitment against terror can join this cause. Every nation of goodwill is welcome.

And together, we will face the peril of our moment and seize the promise of our times. May God bless our coalition. (Applause)

SPENCER MICHELS: And at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld toured the site where terrorists struck six months ago.

189 people were killed in the attack on the plane, and on the ground. Officials expect the majority of the damage to be repaired by September 11 of this year. Flanked by coalition members, Secretary Rumsfeld talked today about the lessons from the terrorist attack.

DONALD RUMSFELD: From the ashes, hope springs.

With the coming of spring, the Pentagon building is rising, and thanks to the truly outstanding effort of the workers, repairs are ahead of schedule. Indeed, from the outside, the building looks like it’s almost new. If one thinks back, our world has changed a great deal. It has awakened to the threat of terrorism, and as all can see here, the civilized nations of the world have reached truly new levels of cooperation, unity, and strength.

We have the opportunity to tear terrorism out by the roots. By our campaign against terrorism, we are preventing acts of terror that may well have been planned before September 11, and would… we would have never known until it was too late. The memory of September 11 reminds us all of the need to remain vigilant.

SPENCER MICHELS: In the countryside near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the fourth hijacked jetliner crashed into a field on September 11, hundreds of people crowded a small church for a memorial service.

Six months ago, 44 people died near here, including four alleged hijackers. A Pennsylvania Congressman wants the federal government to build a memorial for the victims.

And in London, Vice President Dick Cheney joined British Prime Minister Tony Blair for a ceremony to commemorate the attack, before beginning his ten-day tour of the Middle East.

TONY BLAIR, Prime Minister, Great Britain: The United States– indeed, the entire world– suffered a huge blow on September 11, and I am proud of the role that Britain has played in responding to that. We will continue to work closely with the United States of America in facing up to all these threats and challenges that we face.

VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Many Brits died alongside thousands of Americans on September 11. We have mourned our losses together, and at this hour, we engage the enemy together. The bonds between our two countries are more important and lasting than they’ve ever been.

Soon after the attacks, of course, the Prime Minister assured President bush and the American people: We were with you at the first, and we will stay with you till the last. And Mr. Prime Minister, for your clarity and conviction in this time of testing, President Bush and I are grateful, and so are the people of the United States.

SPENCER MICHELS: In Afghanistan, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul flew the stars and stripes at half staff.

Embassy personnel gathered for a simple U.S. Marine guard ceremony, while the flag was lowered at the end of the day.