Nation Commemorates Second Anniversary of Sept. 11 Attacks
Prayer services, the tolling of bells and candlelight vigils were among the solemn ceremonies marking the anniversary of the attacks, which killed more than 3,000 people in the most devastating terrorist assault on U.S. soil in the country’s history.
President Bush began the day by attending a church service and then leading a national moment of silence on the White House lawn at 8:46 a.m. EDT, the time when the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center.
“We remember lives lost. We remember the heroic deeds. We remember the compassion, the decency of our fellow citizens on that terrible day,” the president said after attending the early morning church service.
“Also, today is a day of prayer. We pray for the husbands and wives and moms and dads and sons and daughters and loved ones of those who still grieve and hurt,” he said.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg began the morning ceremonies at the site where the World Trade Center twin towers once stood, commonly known as ground zero.
Two bagpipers and a drummer marched onto the site with an American flag that once flew over its ruins to represent the Fire Department, Police Department and Port Authority, which combined lost more than 400 people in the attacks.
“We come here to honor those that we lost, and to remember this day with sorrow,” Bloomberg said.
Some 200 children whose relatives were among the 2,792 killed in the World Trade Center towers read the names of the victims in the ceremony.
Several of the children included a personal message when speaking of their family members. Christina Marie Aceto, age 12, said: “I love you, Daddy. I miss you a lot. Richard Anthony Aceto.”
Four moments of silence were planned during the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony: Two to mark the times when the two planes struck the towers and two to mark when the towers collapsed.
Families began arriving well ahead of the planned observances, according to reports from the scene, many wearing ribbons of white or black, symbolizing mourning, or yellow for hope, and carrying flowers or pictures of loved ones killed two years ago.
Earlier in the day, some 200 people gathered at dawn for a quiet prayer service near ground zero. The ceremony included music and poetry readings.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever heal,” Roberto Brozen, a local resident who lives near the southern tip of Manhattan told the Associated Press at the sunrise service. He said he was reminded of “how fragile we are and how important we are to each other.”
Near Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers and other Defense Department officials participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony to mark the anniversary.
A moment of silence was observed at the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. EDT, the time when a hijacked jet slammed into the building’s west face, killing 184 people.
Rumsfeld called it a day to remember all those who gave their lives in support of freedom, including troops killed in “the mountains of Afghanistan” and the “deserts of Iraq.”
Later in the day, Rumsfeld helped dedicate a stained-glass window at the Pentagon chapel to honor those killed at the nation’s military headquarters on Sept. 11, 2001.
In Shanksville, Pa., quiet ceremonies and tolling bells marked the time when a fourth hijacked plane crashed in a field near the small, rural town, killing the 40 passengers and crew.
“This year, we’re able to reflect on the day easier whereas last year we were a little bit rushed with President Bush coming to town,” Terry Shaffer, chief of the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department, which was one of the first crews called to the site of the crash, told the AP.
Interior Secretary Gale Norton is scheduled to participate in an afternoon ceremony in Shanksville to swear in members of a federal advisory commission that will oversee plans for a permanent memorial to the victims.
The Sept. 11 anniversary was also noted in remembrances around the world.
The Australian environmental group Planet Ark joined Americans to plant 3,000 native trees in a Sydney park in memory of the victims of the attacks. Thousands of candles were also lit on the grounds of the U.S. embassy in the capital Canberra to remember those killed.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard was in Washington at the time of the attacks two years ago.
“I won’t ever forget the sense of disbelief … and the sheer audacity and sheer brutality and callousness of the attack,” he said, according to CNN.
In London, Britain’s Princess Anne was scheduled to open a memorial garden dedicated to the 67 British victims of the attacks.
The garden includes a shaded seating area and a pavilion bearing bronze plaques listing the names of those from the United Kingdom, overseas territories and dual nationals who lost their lives, according to a statement released by the British government.
In Hong Kong, as in many cities, the U.S. consulate lowered its flag to half-mast to mark the day.
In Brussels, the anniversary was marked with a moment of silence at the European Union headquarters.