Relatives of the 9/11 victims will gather at Ground Zero today to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the attack that killed 2,977 people.
The names of those who died when the hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will be read out at the ceremony at the two-year-old memorial plaza.
Those killed in the hijacked Flight 93 and the victims of the 1993 trade center bombing will also be read aloud.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, musician Billy Joel and firefighters will be among riders expected to join in a tribute motorcycle ride from a Manhattan firehouse to Ground Zero.
Name-reading, wreath-laying and other tributes also will also be held at the Pentagon and at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville while the commemoration unfolds at ground zero.
A Tribute In Light will also be released at the site of the World Trade Center.
In New York the mayor who has helped orchestrate the observances from their start will be watching for his last time in office.
Continuing a decision made last year, no politicians will speak, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Memorial organizers expect to take primary responsibility for the ceremony next year and say they plan to continue concentrating the event on victims’ loved ones, even as the forthcoming museum creates a new, broader framework for remembering 9/11.
“As things evolve in the future, the focus on the remembrance is going to stay sacrosanct,” memorial President Joe Daniels says.
Wednesday’s commemoration also arrives with changes coming at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, where officials gathered yesterday to herald the start of construction on a visitor center.
At the Pentagon, there will be a ceremony in the morning for victims’ relatives and survivors of the attacks and an afternoon observance for Pentagon workers.
Around the world, thousands of volunteers have pledged to do good deeds, honoring an anniversary that was designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance in 2009.
When Michael Bloomberg and then-Gov. George Pataki announced the plans for the first anniversary in 2002, the mayor said the “intent is to have a day of observances that are simple and powerful”.
By next year’s anniversary, Michael Bloomberg will be out of office, and the museum is expected to be open beneath the memorial plaza.
While the memorial honors those killed, the museum is intended to present a broader picture of 9/11, including the experiences of survivors and first responders.
But the organizers expect they “will always keep the focus on the families on the anniversary”, Joe Daniels said.
That focus was clear as relatives gathered last September on the tree-laden plaza, with a smaller crowd than in some prior years.
After the throng and fervor that attended the 10th anniversary, “there was something very, very different about it”, says Charles Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, was killed in the trade center’s north tower.
“It felt almost cemetery-ish, but not really. It felt natural.”
The victims of the Flight 93 National Memorial will be honored with a bell-ringing ceremony at the time when United Flight 93 crashed in a western Pennsylvania field, killing 40 passengers and crew.
The National Park Service says that at 10:03 a.m. the names of all 33 passengers and seven crew members who died in the crash will be read, and bells will be rung in their memory during a 40-minute ceremony.
From noon to 5 p.m., park rangers and volunteers will give presentations about Flight 93 and the creation of the memorial park, which is located in Shanksville, about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
At 4 p.m. rangers will present a program titled Flight 93’s Final Minutes: The Flight Data Recorder Story.
A groundbreaking for a 6,800-square-foot visitor center was held yesterday.
The building will be broken in two at the point of the plane’s flight path overhead. It is expected to open in late 2015.
The first features of the memorial in Shanksville were completed and dedicated in September 2011, including new roads and a Memorial Plaza near the crash site. Forty memorial groves of trees have also been planted, and large sections of the park have been replanted or reforested.
Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco on September 11, 2001, when it was hijacked with the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol.
As passenger Todd Beamer issued the rallying cry “Let’s roll”, he and several fellow passengers rushed down the airliner’s narrow aisle to try to overwhelm the hijackers after learning of the coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.