Remembering the Fifth Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks
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JIM LEHRER: The nation today marked five years since the 9/11 attacks. Nearly 3,000 people were killed that day in 2001, when hijacked airliners flew into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Today, there were ceremonies at each site, with Americans of all stripes, from national leaders to loved ones of the lost. Gwen Ifill begins our coverage with the events of the day.
GWEN IFILL: At the World Trade Center site, ground zero, thousands of mourners gathered today in the bright morning sunlight. After New York City police and firefighters unfurled an American flag that flew over the ruins of ground zero five years ago, the first of four moments of silence was observed, at 8:46 a.m., the moment when the first hijacked plane struck the north tower. Susan Sliwak lost her husband, Robert, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, a bond trading firm in tower one.
SUSAN SLIWAK, Wife of September 11 Victim: We had been married for only nine years, though it felt as if we had shared a lifetime together, because of all that we had been through. The light of his life were our three children, Ryan and our twins, Kyle and Nicole. Of all the many things I wish I could still tell him, there is one thing my heart wants to say above all the rest, feelings best expressed in the words of an American song: “How much do I love you? I will tell you no lie. How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky? How many times a day do I think of you? How many roses are sprinkled with dew? How far would I travel to be where you are? How far is the journey? From here to a star? And, if I ever lost you, how much would I cry? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky?”
GWEN IFILL: Spouses, partners and others read 2,749 names of those who perished in the New York attack.
WOMAN: Shannon Lewis Adams.
WOMAN: Stephen George Adams.
WOMAN: Ignatius Udo Adanga.
WOMAN: And to my husband, Richard Anthony Aceto, our daughter, Christina, and I love you, and miss you very, very much.
WOMAN: And my boyfriend, firefighter Paul John Gill, my love for you is eternal. And we miss you very much.
JAMES SMITH, Husband of September 11 Victim: I am the husband of New York City police officer, Moira Smith, who, five years ago, ran into the south tower, because she believed that a life lived in service of others was the only one worth living. She never hesitated when there was work to be done. And that is how she would want our daughter, Patricia, to remember her. I have been thinking about what Moira would be doing today if she were here with us. I know she would be concerned for her fellow officers, for their health and their safety. She would be still protecting the people of the city she loved, defending a nation she loved, keeping it from harm. And she would be raising the child she loved more than anything on Earth. But, most importantly, Moira would be about the business of living. She would be making us smile when we wanted to frown and laugh when we wanted to cry. Police officer Moira Smith did not survive that day. And the world is a less safe, less fun and a less caring place because of it. I am honored to have been her husband. I am grateful to have our child to raise, helping her to understand that her mother was, and still is, the pride of New York City.
GWEN IFILL: Rudy Giuliani, who was the city's mayor five years ago, spoke. RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), Former Mayor of New York: Five years from the date of the attack that changed our world, we have come back to remember the valor of those we have lost, those who innocently went to work that day, and the brave souls who went in after them. We also have come to be ever mindful of the courage of those who grieve and the light that still shines in their hearts. God bless all of those that we lost. God bless all of you who mourn for them, remember them, and live on in their spirit. And God bless America.
GWEN IFILL: At the White House this morning, Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne, were joined by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for a moment of silence. Later, at the Pentagon, where 184 people died, a visibly moved vice president spoke to victims' families.
RICHARD B. CHENEY, Vice President of The United States: Surely men and women here and aboard Flight 77 were, in their last moments, holding and comforting one another. And, when we think of them, it will always be with a special feeling of empathy and sorrow. We will always understand the pain of their families. And our nation will forever look with reverence upon their place, this place where their lives ended. We have no intention of ignoring or appeasing history's latest gang of fanatics trying to murder their way to power. The war on terror has placed hard duties on our military and on the Department of Defense. You have done all our country has asked of you, and more. And you know better than most that much hard work and sacrifice still lay ahead.
GWEN IFILL: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also linked his anniversary reflections to the broader international fight against terrorism.
DONALD RUMSFELD, Secretary of Defense: I remember working -- working our way through that -- that long, tragic day. Today, we remember all of those who lost their lives, not only on September 11, but in the struggle we have faced against extremists now for more than two decades -- the 241 Marines killed in Beirut, the sailors on the USS Cole, the airline passengers flying over Lockerbie, Scotland, subway riders in Madrid and London, and the children going to school in Beslan, Russia. And we remember each of those who came to work here at the Pentagon on that bright September morning, but did not come home. And we remember the men and women in uniform who have stepped forward to serve our country, and have lost their lives in our defense in the five years since. The highest tribute we can pay to them is to commit ourselves to doing everything possible to fight the extremists, wherever they are, to making every effort to stay united as a country, and to give our truly outstanding men and women in uniform all that they need to succeed.
United Flight 93
GWEN IFILL: President Bush also visited the Pentagon this afternoon, his third stop in two days of 9/11 observances -- laying wreaths at the sites where the Twin Towers once stood, attending a memorial service at nearby Saint Paul's Chapel, and, early this morning, eating breakfast with some of New York's first-responders at a Lower East Side firehouse; afterward, flying to Pennsylvania, where he paid respects at the rural site where United Flight 93 crashed, killing 40 people.
MAN: Georgine Rose Corrigan.
GWEN IFILL: The passengers who died on that third plane gained enduring notoriety, after fighting against the hijackers' intent to fly the jet into the U.S. Capitol or the White House. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter was in Washington that day.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), Pennsylvania: There are 535 Americans who owe a special debt of gratitude to the heroes of Flight 93, 435 members of the House of Representatives, and 100 United States senators, because that plane -- perhaps only speculative, but I believe it to be true -- was headed to the Capitol of the United States. A Tuesday morning, like most of the other 534, I was at work. And, had those heroes not acted, I believe the Capitol of the U.S. House and Senate would have gone down. Somebody said, well, if the 20th hijacker had been on Flight 93, it wouldn't have come down. And I said, you're wrong. The crew and the passengers of Flight 93 would have brought that plane down under any circumstance.
GWEN IFILL: Five year ago, Tom Ridge was governor of Pennsylvania.
TOM RIDGE, Former Homeland Security Secretary: The passengers and crew of Flight 93 are truly an emblem of a citizen's greatest gift, a love of country, so deeply felt, so strongly demonstrated, that the highest sacrifice was nobly offered. These men and women stood in solidarity, so that others would receive salvation. Through bravery and unquestionable patriotism, and, again, through word and deed, they said, together, let us give this moment all we can. And so it was that, five years ago, upon this field of honor, lives were lost, so that lives were saved, and thus heroes were made over the skies of Shanksville. God bless the beloved patriots of Flight 93. And may God continue to bless the land they so dearly loved, the freest and most treasured place any of us could call home, the United States of America.
CHOIR: Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.
GWEN IFILL: There were commemorations held around the world today, as well. In London, mourners placed white roses and yellow carnations, honoring the 67 Britons killed in New York.
TESSA JOWELL, Member of British Parliament: What will survive of us is love. And the love of your relatives, of your sons, your daughters, your husbands, your wives, your partners, is what will endure. God bless you.
GWEN IFILL: On a visit to his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI led a prayer for peace. And, in Helsinki, Finland, world leaders, gathered at a 38-nation Asia/Europe meeting, opened their final session with a moment of silence. Ceremonies and candlelight vigils were also held in Japan, France, Russia, Israel, and Indonesia. In Australia, the U.S. flag was lowered to half-staff, as Prime Minister John Howard reaffirmed his country's commitment to fighting terrorism.
WOMAN: For the land of the free...
GWEN IFILL: And, in Afghanistan, Americans still on the front lines of the war launched in retaliation for 9/11 laid wreaths. The ceremonies continued around the world, even as a new videotaped reminder, with new threats from al-Qaida number-two man, was released. In it, Ayman Al-Zawahri urged Muslims to step up attacks against the United States and the West. He said the Arab Gulf states and Israel are the new targets. In the United States, somber 9/11 anniversary observances will continue through this evening. At sunset today, as in years past, two beams of light will radiate from the place where the Twin Towers once stood. And, in Washington, 184 beams of light -- one for every life lost there -- will illuminate the Pentagon.