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September Terrorist Attacks Remembered at Ground Zero

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg
and Christine Hauser

Americans observed a solemn day of remembrance Monday in memorials around the United States to mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, pausing at ground zero in New York City and the two other 9/11 sites for moments of silence, tributes and a recitation of the names of those who were killed.

“It surely cannot be easy to come to this site,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, speaking at ground zero, after a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. marking the moment that the first plane struck the World Trade Center.

“Who can know what is in your hearts,” he said.

In the silence, under a clear blue sky, families and friends of people killed in the attacks lowered their heads. Some clutched flowers and photographs as tears fell.

Gov. George Pataki quoted from “Dirge Without Music,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

“Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned. “Surrounded by police and firefighters at a firehouse in lower Manhattan, President Bush observed the anniversary with back-to-back moments of silence, 17 minutes apart, each marking the precise time that terrorists flew hijacked planes into the twin towers.

The president and Mrs. Bush did not speak during the ceremony but bowed their heads solemnly during the moments of silence, one at 8:46 and the other at 9:03. The morning sun bathed them in a warm light reflecting back off the red of the firehouse doors.

In Shanksville, Pa., the sonorous toll of a bell sounded after each name of the 40 passengers and crew was read out at a remembrance ceremony of United Airlines Flight 93 in which speakers praised the courageous behavior of those who fought the hijackers.

Expressions of grief were etched on the faces of family members as they listened. American flags snapped in the breeze, a backdrop to the words of Gen. Tommy Franks, the retired head of Central Command, as he called 9/11 a day when America was “shaken to her core.”

“But in this place we are inspired by a light of patriotism,” Franks said. “We honor the 40 passengers and members of the crew of flight 93 who were, as has been correctly said, one moment ordinary citizens, and the next heroes forever.”

As at other memorials, the solemn strains of bagpipes infused the ceremony at the Pentagon, where Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mixed sympathy for the survivors of attack victims with defiance toward the attackers and their sponsors. He said “grief soon hardened into resolve” to prevent more attacks and to punish those responsible.

Vice President Richard Cheney struck a similar tone. He quoted an unnamed lieutenant colonel who called the smashing of an airliner into the Pentagon as “cheap, dirty and senseless.”

Bush is scheduled to attend wreath-laying observances in Shanksville and at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. It would be the first time since the first anniversary of the attacks, on Sept. 11, 2002, that Bush has observed the anniversary in all three places. He will then return to Washington, where he plans to address the nation from the Oval Office Monday night.