The 13th anniversary commemoration of the 9/11 terror attack will be marked with a solemn reading of the names and moments of silence at the precise times of tragedy.
As the nation pauses to mark the commemoration of the September 11, 2001, terror attack, little about the annual ceremony at ground zero has changed.
However, for the first time, the National September 11 Museum — which includes gut-wrenching artifacts and graphic photos of the attacks — will be open on the anniversary. Fences around the memorial plaza have come down, integrating the sacred site more fully with the streets of Manhattan while completely opening it up to the public and camera-wielding tourists.
A nearly completed One World Trade Center has risen 1,776 feet above ground zero and will be filled with office workers by this date in 2015, another sign that a page in the city’s history may be turning.
For some who lost loved ones in the attacks, the increasing feel of a return to normalcy in the area threatens to obscure the tragedy that took place there and interfere with their grief.
The 13th anniversary commemoration of the September 11 terror attack will be marked with a solemn reading of the names and moments of silence at the precise times of tragedy
As happens annually, family members of those killed in the attacks will gather Thursday morning to read the names of the deceased, pausing the sad roll call only four times: to mark the times when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, when the second plane struck, when the first tower fell and when the second tower fell.
The memorial plaza will be closed to the public for most of the day and available only to family members. It will reopen at 6 p.m., at which point thousands of New Yorkers are expected to mark the anniversary at the twin reflecting pools where the towers once stood.
In May, when the museum opened in a ceremony attended by President Barack Obama, the fences that had surrounded the plaza for years disappeared, as did the need for visitors to obtain a timed ticket. Now, thousands of people freely visit every day, from cellphone-toting travelers to workers on a lunch break, and those crowds will only swell further this year when One World Trade Center finally opens.
The first ceremony at the site was held six months after the Twin Towers fell and was organized by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his aides. Michael Bloomberg, who took office just three months after the attacks, remained in charge, acting as the master of ceremonies for the next decade.
After other elected officials attempted to gain a larger role at the solemn event, in 2012, all politicians — including Michael Bloomberg — were prohibited from speaking at the event. That remains the case now, as new mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office in January, agreed to let the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation organize the commemoration ceremony. Michael Bloomberg is the foundation’s chairman.
President Barack Obama has joined 9/11 survivors and rescuers at the memorial museum dedication ceremony on the site of the attacks in New York.
Barack Obama told those gathered it was a “sacred place of healing and of hope”.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum includes thousands of personal items and parts of the World Trade Center towers themselves.
Almost 3,000 people died on 11 September 2001 after al-Qaeda hijackers flew planes into the towers.
Another hijacked plane hit the Pentagon. A fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought with the hijackers.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum includes thousands of personal items and parts of the World Trade Center towers themselves (photo NBC News)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama toured the museum, viewing a memorial wall with photos of victims and a mangled fire truck, before the ceremony began at 10:00 EST.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined them.
In his opening remarks at the ceremony, Michael Bloomberg said the museum was “a reminder to us and all future generations that freedom carries heavy responsibilities”.
Barack Obama said the museum means we can all “look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls”.
“We can touch their names and hear their voices, glimpse the small items that speak to the beauty of their lives – the wedding rings, a duty helmet, a shining badge,” he told those gathered.
As well as rescuers, survivors and relatives of people who lost their lives, there was in attendance the New York mayor at the time of the attacks, Rudy Giuliani, the present mayor, Bill de Blasio and actor Robert De Niro.
Along with the nearby memorial plaza, the New York city museum cost $700 million in donations and public money.
The museum, not far from the original site of the World Trade Center, is largely underground.
The museum will be fully open to the public on May 21.
The museum features dramatic and horrific moments of the day in videos, including the two skyscrapers collapsing, but also symbols of heroism, such as damaged fire trucks and the wristwatch of one of the passengers who confronted the hijackers.
“You won’t walk out of this museum without a feeling that you understand humanity in a deeper way,” said museum President Joe Daniels.
Charles Wolf, who lost his wife Katherine in the attacks, said he was awaiting the ceremonial opening on Thursday with a mix of anticipation and dread.
“It brings everything up,” he said.
The museum is not without controversy. Some relatives of victims are upset that unidentified humans remains found in the rubble will be located near the museum at Ground Zero.
Some Muslim groups have also said a video describing al-Qaeda and the run-up to the attacks does not differentiate enough between the violent hijackers motivated by a radical vision of Islam and regular Muslims.
For the first time since the 9/11 attack, the federal government is on the verge of recognizing that people who lived near Ground Zero and first responders got cancer from toxic dust from the scene.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is expected to announce the findings on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attack tomorrow.
The institute is responsible for deciding whether cancer should be among the illnesses covered by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
Around 50 cancers are expected to be included.
The ruling will mean thousands of people who are sure they got sick in the aftermath of the outrage will be eligible for compensation.
US federal government is on the verge of recognizing that people who lived near Ground Zero and first responders got cancer from toxic dust from the scene
Michael Barasch, a lawyer who represent thousands of first responders and residents, told the New York Post: “There’s new scientific evidence that dust is what is now linked to not only the respiratory illnesses, but all these cancers.”
John Walcott, an NYPD detective who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2003 after working months at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills landfill said: “It’s a bittersweet thing. It took 11 years to do what should have been done a long time ago.”
The Zadroga Act – named after NYPD Detective James Zadroga, who died age 34 after working on the World Trade Center pile – was passed into law two years ago.
Under the Act $2.8 billion was set aside to compensate people made ill by exposure to toxins at the site. Another $1.5 billion has been allocated over five years to fund the World Trade Center Health Program, which treats and monitors about 40,000 first responders.
It originally did not cover cancer because there was not enough evidence linking it to the toxins emitted at Ground Zero.
“To me, it’s common sense. If you breathe in toxic fumes, you’re going to get cancer,” said U.S. Rep Carolyn Maloney, a Manhattan Democrat who helped author the bill.
But even Carolyn Maloney conceded that it is difficult to find hard data proving the connection between cancer and the dust at ground zero. That’s why in crafting the Zadroga Act, lawmakers were careful to include mechanisms that would allow for illnesses to be added based on new scientific research.
This was despite thousands of responders claiming top be sick because of their part in the rescue efforts.
About 400 first responders or people who lived near the site have died from cancer since 9/11, according to the most recent estimates.
With the inclusion of cancer in the program, there will be more victims seeking compensation yet no increase in the $2.77 billion fund – meaning individual rewards will be lower.
Thomas Gilmartin, a smoker who suffers from lung disease and sleep apnea, told the Post: “They’re going to add cancers, but are they going to add more money to the fund?
“It’s crazy. Every time, we gotta fight. It’s two years since Obama signed that bill and nobody’s got ten cents.”
The Victim Compensation Fund’s special master, Sheila Birnbaum, has been responsible for evenhandedly distributing $2.7 billion to Ground Zero responders and others who became ill after being exposed to dust and ash from the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center.
She will be permitted to spend only $875 million of the fund’s total in the first five years after the initial payments begin.
After those five years pass, people with valid claims will begin to receive their remaining portion of the additional $1.9 billion.
In the two years since the law was passed, about 40,000 responders and survivors receive monitoring and 20,000 get treatment for illnesses as part of the World Trade Center Health Program.
With time still left to submit claims, some people are holding out in the event that they become sick in the near future. Others are waiting until the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health officially adds 14 broad categories of cancer to the list of conditions covered by the fund.
Recently diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma, 55-year-old Brian Casse hopes he can secure money from the fund to support his wife and children in case he takes a turn for the worst.
Brian Casse, a retired firefighter who helped clear away the mountain of rubble at ground zero, believes there’s little doubt his work at the site is responsible for his illness.
“You’ve got people in this city who went down there and did what we had to do. And a lot of us got sick because of it,” Brian Casse said.
“To make us now fight for this money, it’s not right. In the grand scheme of things, this money’s a drop in the bucket.”
Jeff Stroehlin was one of 40,000 construction workers, firefighters and police officers who worked tirelessly on what became known as the Pile, the mountain of debris that had been the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
In March 2011, Jeff Stroehlein was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma, a cloud-like mass on the front of his brain.
The tumor was unusual in being a primary, the disease commonly spreading to the brain from another part of the body.
He underwent months of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant last August.
His last four MRIs have showed no sign of the cancer, he told Long Island Newsday, but he fears it is only a matter of time until it comes back.
“This isn’t just for me,” he said of the coverage.
“This is for everybody else. First of all, I’m lucky enough to be talking to you. But what about the guy who could lose his house trying to pay his medical bills?”
The 9/11 commemoration ceremony began exactly as it did on that fateful date 10 years ago.
Where the Twin Towers of World Trade Centre stood until 9:59 a.m. and 10:28 a.m. respectively on 11 September 2001, two giant waterfall pools features now cascaded following their official opening.
World Trade Centre memorial ceremony, September 11, 2011
The sound of water falling 30 ft to the reflective pools below echoed around the glass cladding of the replacement towers rising around Ground Zero, creating the illusion of hundreds of people chattering.
Each one coming there brought with them the memory of a father, wife, son – some in physical form like the woman who carried aloft a series of photographs of a man cut into shapes that spelled: “I love daddy”. Others wore T-shirts with printed photos of their loved ones, or held up placards showing a husband at his college graduation, a daughter smiling broadly, with the words: “Never forgotten”.
2,977 is the number of those who died in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania (not including the 19 hijackers). Almost half of those who died had children under 18.
It took 4 1/2 hours to read out in alphabetical order the names of the victims. Those with a surname starting with “A” alone took almost 10 minutes – all 108 of them.
9 /11 commemoration 2011: many relatives struggled to keep their composure, voices cracking, as they read out the name of their own loved-one
Many relatives struggled to keep their composure, voices cracking, as they read out the name of their own loved-one. Strangely, one of the calmest speakers was also one of the youngest: a 10-year-old boy took the stage and said, without a glitch: ” I wish I’d known you better, but I was nine months old when you died. Everybody says you were a great guy. I love you Dad.”
Gordon Aamoth was the first of the 2,977 to be proclaimed. His friends called him “Gordy”. He was a keen athlete and captain of his high-school football team, and on the day before he died, aged 32, he clinched the largest deal of his career as an investment banker. He came to the World Trade Centre that morning to announce his success.
9/11 commemoration ceremony 2011: a minute of silence was held at 8:46 a.m. to mark the instant the first plane went into the North Tower
The very last name was Igor Zukelman. He arrived in New York in 1992 from his native Ukraine and built a new life for himself in a financial company. Igor used to boast to friends that from his 97th floor office in the Twin Towers you could see the whole of New York City, and he became an US citizen just months before he died, aged 29. He left behind a son, then aged three.
For the first time, Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush were united at Ground Zero – Bush having declined an earlier invitation to appear here after the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Barack Obama read from Psalm 46 – “God is our refuge and strength” – after a minute’s silence was held at 8:46 a.m. to mark the instant the first plane went into the North Tower. The president was standing just in front of the spot where the tower used to stretch far up into the sky.
9/11 commemoration ceremony 2011: President Barack Obama read from Psalm 46 - God is our refuge and strength
In his oration, George W. Bush turned to Abraham Lincoln for inspiration, reading a letter his predecessor sent to a mother of five sons who died in the Civil War. “I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming,” Lincoln wrote.
Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama spoke from behind bullet-proof glass screens. That was a sharp reminder that the wound to America’s sense of security that was inflicted 10 years ago has yet to heal.
Away from Ground Zero, smaller gatherings marked aspects of the 9/11 tragedy in their own personal ways. Further uptown, at a fire station on 48th Street, firefighters and bereaved families remembered the firefighters of Engine 54, Ladder 4. Every member who reported for duty that day died, 15 in all.
Among those at the ceremony yesterday was retired fire chief Joe Nardone, commander on 9/11. He said it was a day for remembering “broken hearts and unspeakable horrors”.
In a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where president Barack Obama travelled from Ground Zero to lay a wreath, thousands of people marked a moment of silence at 10:03 a.m., the moment United flight 93 flew into the ground after 40 passengers and crew lost their battle to seize control of the plane from the hijackers.
Sorrow filled the speeches in Shanksville but also celebration, at times marked with jingoism, for the “extraordinary heroism” of the 40 passengers and crew who prevented the hijackers going on to attack the Capitol in Washington.
Jason Cassidy, a metalworker, came from Baltimore because he felt it was important to honour the dead. But he was frustrated at the tone of some of the speeches, which he felt cast the resistance of the passengers and crew to the hijackers as a justification for a wider war.
“We don’t forget that day because we’re still living it. It’s not just history, it’s now. Out of that day, a lot of people have died. Thousands more Americans. Thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
“There are not enough people asking the question whether our response to what happened here has made it more not less likely we’ll be attacked again.”
Thousands of people, family members of the victims killed in New York on September 11 2001, gathered this morning at Ground Zero as United States began a sombre day of tributes to those who lost their lives during the terror attacks that shocked the world ten years ago.
Today’s ceremony has moments of silence to mourn those who perished as each of the planes crashed and the two towers went down, while President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush deliver readings of the names of the 2,753 people who died in the terror attacks.
Thousands of family members of the victims killed in New York on September 11 , gathered this morning at Ground Zero for 10th anniversary from the terror attacks
New York forms the focus of the memorial day, but respects will be paid throughout the country, with events at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania also poignantly marking the passing of innocent Americans a decade ago.
First moment of silence will be held at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane crashed into the North Tower, and then the names of the victims will be read.
Further moments of silence will be held to mark the other attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania at 9.03am, 9.36am, 9.59am, 10.03am and 10.28am.
President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush participating at the September 11 10th anniversary at Ground Zero
The annual “Tribute in Light” will then begin from the World Trade Centre site at sundown, visible for more than 60 miles. Two blue lights, made up of 7,000 watt bulbs, were switched on for the first time this year on Tuesday night.
Law enforcement agencies around the country have stepped up security at airports, nuclear plants, train stations and elsewhere in anticipation of possible anniversary attacks.
New York City residents and workers in the area of Ground Zero are required to carry identification to gain access with 20 downtown streets planned for closure.
September 11 2011 also marks the opening of the memorial and museum, set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers of World Trade Centre among a small forest of oak trees in an eight-acre plaza.
The Ground Zero pools have the September 11 victims' names etched around their perimeters
The memorial, which opens to the public tomorrow, features two 30 ft-deep pools, each containing fountains, along with a museum with exhibitions and artefacts to teach visitors about the events of September 11. The Ground Zero pools have the September 11 victims’ names etched around their perimeters.
Yesterday, more than 4,000 people, including relatives of those killed when Flight 93 crashed into a rural Pennsylvania field, attended the memorial service in Shanksville.
Former President George W. Bush paid tribute to the victims of Flight 93 on Saturday, describing their actions as some of the most courageous in U.S. history.
George W.Bush was joined by former president Bill Clinton to lead a silent tribute to the victims of September 11 at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania the day before the official anniversary of the terror attacks.
A long white stone wall bearing the names of those who struggled with al-Qaeda terrorists on the fourth airliner to be hijacked on September 11, 2001, was unveiled on the rural Pennsylvania field where the Boeing 757 crashed.
Current vice president Joe Biden joined the former presidents, families of the victims and several hundred others – many in patriotic T-shirts or holding US flags under a slate grey sky.
During the ceremony, the names of the 40 victims were read out, one by one, accompanied by chimes.
2,753 Flags of Honour – each baring the names of 9/11 victims in patriotic stripes of red and blue – are standing at the tip of Manhattan as New York City marks the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
The New York City Memorial Field, part of a five-day installation, was erected to give New Yorkers a public place to gather in remembrance of those who were killed in the horrific acts of September 11, 2001.
2,753 empty chairs, representing the lives lost on 9/11, were set Friday in Manhattan in order to face south toward the World Trade on Bryant Park’s lawn for part of a project called “Ten Years Later, A Tribute 9/11”.
Actors and performers from the Broadway community gathered at Times Square in costume for “Broadway Unites: 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance” ceremony.
Organizers at Manhattan Community Board said the event is open for those who feel excluded from today’s official 9/11 Memorial ceremony, which is only open to families of the victims. Events to mark the tenth anniversary will go on throughout today in Manhattan.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art will display the 9/11 Peace Story Quilt with an accompanying programme throughout the afternoon.
Graduate students from New York University will read poetry from the quilt and a free concert will be performed. Created in collaboration with New York City students aged between 8 and 19, the quilt was made to convey the importance of communication among cultures and religions to achieve peace.
The New-York Historical Society will showcase a selection of photos taken during the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The Remembering 9/11 photo exhibition will be on view until April 12.
A film titled “World Trade Center: All Times”, based on a 10-year project by Fred J. DeVito that began as a way to remember the events and how they shaped the lives of Americans, will play at the Big Screen Plaza in Manhattan’s Flatiron district.
The New York Mets will hold a tribute at Citi Field at 7:30 p.m., half an hour before their game against the Chicago Cubs begins. John Franco will throw the first pitch to Mike Piazza – both members of the 2001 team.
Ground Zero "Tribute in Light" uses 88 powerful beams and has been running every year to mark the anniversary of the attacks
An Evening of Light 10th Anniversary Gala will be also held at Capitale at 8:00 p.m.
FDNY 10th anniversary memorial service honouring members lost at World Trade Centre, a free ceremony at St Patrick’s Cathedral, will be held from from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., honouring the 343 FDNY families that lost a loved one at the World Trade Center. The ceremony will be shown on large TV screens in midtown Manhattan.
At the end of the day, St Patrick’s Cathedral will hold a free concert given by the Young Peoples Chorus of New York, the New York Choral Society, and Cathedral Choir of St Patrick.
The first pictures of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero have been revealed before the 10th anniversary on Sunday.
Ground Zero, the site which people once associated with death, devastation and abject terror has now turned, after 10 years, into a place of peace, tranquillity and sadness.
National 9/11 Memorial: view from the south pool waterfall with Freedom Tower in the background
Starting with Sunday, September 11, 2011, Ground Zero – once a black hole of despair – will become known as the National September 11th Memorial.
On the places where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre once stood now lies two granite pools in its footprints with waterfalls cascading 30 feet (about 10 meters) below.
National 9/11 Memorial: view of Ground Zero from Washington Street
The one-acre size pools sprawl out across the World Trade Center plaza – one to signify each fallen tower.
The pools are bordered by bronze panels inscribed by the names of all those who perished at the hands of terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, at the Pentagon, in New York and in Pennsylvania; when night time falls, the panels will be backlit to shine against the void.
400 swamp white trees line the plaza and a small clearing known as the Memorial Glade is set aside for special ceremonies, according to the New York Post.
National 9/11 Memorial: Freedom Tower, One World Trade Centre building
A navy-blue flag adorned with 40 gold stars to represent the passengers and crew members who died on United Airlines Flight 93 billows high above the site.
A white ring encircles around an image of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre to form the shape of a pentagon to honour the 184 who perished both at the Pentagon and aboard American Airlines Flight 77.
The Twin Towers, standing in the centre of the flag with the numbers nine and 11 and the words ‘we remember’ represents the thousands who perished on the morning of September 11 when two planes crashed into the buildings.
The 9/11 Memorial’s designer, Michael Arad, was a young, little-known architect whose plan was selected out of 5,200 proposals.
“These two acre-sized voids are like a moment of silence and what we do with that moment of silence depends on us. We just want to make sure everything is done very carefully. We’re building for the ages,” Michael Arad told CBS.
National 9/11 Memorial: North Pool at Ground Zero
Joe Daniels, president of the National 9/11 Memorial told the New York Post:
“We remember the towers standing, the towers falling, the devastation on the pile, the empty pit.
“And to move to a place of grace and beauty is something that the entire country can feel proud of.”
The National Memorial opens to the 9/11 families on Sunday and to the public on Monday. Visitors must reserve visitor passes in advance on the memorial’s Website, 911memorial.org.