America remembers the victims of 9/11
9/11/2013, 9:09 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP) — September 11 victims' loved ones gathered at ground zero to commemorate the attacks' anniversary with the reading of names, moments of silence and serene music that have become tradition. At last Wednesday's ceremony on the 2-year-old memorial plaza, relatives recited the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died when hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa., as well as the 1993 trade center bombing victims' names. Beforehand, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, musician Billy Joel, firefighters and others joined in a tribute motorcycle ride from a Manhattan firehouse to ground zero.
Name-reading, wreath-laying and other tributes were also held at the Pentagon and at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville while the commemoration unfolded at ground zero, where the mayor who helped orchestrate the observances from their start watched for his last time in office — and said nothing.
Continuing a decision made last year, no politicians spoke, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Over his years as mayor and chairman of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum, Bloomberg has sometimes tangled with victims' relatives, religious leaders and other elected officials over an event steeped in symbolism and emotion. But his administration has largely succeeded at its goal of keeping the commemoration centered on the attacks' victims and their families and relatively free of political image-making. 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.
Around the world, thousands of volunteers pledged to do good deeds, honoring an anniversary that was designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance in 2009. When 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, 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 say they will always keep the focus on the families on the anniversary.