President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush will join New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg today to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center that killed 2,752 people.
The ceremony, in the shadow of a replacement tower that will be New York’s tallest building, will take place while thousands of police officers work overtime under a New York City terror alert stemming from what Bloomberg described as a “credible but not corroborated” threat.
Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey will also participate. Officials will read prose and poetry, and surviving family members will recite the names of almost 3,000 victims in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, along with six killed in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center garage.
“A moment to reflect, to remember and to rededicate ourselves to the values and freedoms that made New York a target for evil,” is how Bloomberg described the proceedings at a Sept. 7 briefing. “It’s a chance to take stock of just how far our city has come since that day in 2001.”
Lower Manhattan, devastated by the attack that felled the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center a decade ago, has doubled its residential population since, added 19 hotels and invested $552 million in new parks, streets and water mains, Bloomberg said last week.
The focal point of the revival is 1 World Trade Center, a $3.2 billion 1,776-foot building that’s reached the 80th of 104 floors. It’s rising by one floor per week and will be completed by 2013, said Christopher Ward, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site.
In May, Conde Nast, which publishes magazines including Vogue and Vanity Fair, announced its intention to lease 1 million square feet there.
A museum with artifacts from the destroyed towers and the people who died is scheduled to open a year from today. Together with a memorial, it will create a $700 million commemoration of the attack on half the 16 acres that make up the World Trade Center site.
The mayor, who is chairman of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum’s board of directors, is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
Two other towers designed by architects Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, and a transit terminal designed by Santiago Calatrava-Valls, will be completed by 2015, said developer Larry Silverstein.
Better Than Before
“It’s hard to remember that 10 years ago many predicted that Lower Manhattan was finished as a business district,” Silverstein said last week. “One thing everyone had in common was a passion to build something even better than existed before.”
Silverstein’s view isn’t shared by everyone. John Duffy, chief executive officer of KBW Inc., an investment bank that lost 67 employees on the South Tower’s 88th and 89th floors, said he wouldn’t return to the new World Trade Center.
“The emotional stress on the 70 employees that still work here, myself included, would be too much,” Duffy said in an interview on Bloomberg Television Sept. 8. “It is hard to show up at a place of business and keep your business focused when your personal thoughts are elsewhere. It would be like, to me, trying to conduct business out of a cemetery.”
Today’s observance will start with a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time when a jetliner hijacked by members of the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda smashed into the complex’s North Tower. Another silent moment will come 17 minutes later, marking when a second airplane hit the South Tower.
The ceremony, mixed with musical interludes, will also pause at 9:37 a.m., when a jet hit the Pentagon; at 9:59 a.m., when the South Tower fell, and at 10:03 a.m., when passengers on United Air Lines Flight 93 wrested control from hijackers and the plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The final moment of silence, at 10:28 a.m., will mark the time when the North Tower fell.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will leave the New York event to attend a service in Shanksville at noon. He will lay a wreath there in honor of Flight 93 and visit with victims’ families. Later, Obama will visit the Pentagon, where families will gather at an invitation-only ceremony at 9:30 a.m., after which the building will reopen to the public.
The venue for the New York commemoration is a memorial to the victims that opens today. Called “Reflecting Absence,” it was created by Michael Arad, a city-employed architect whose design was chosen from 5,000 submissions.
It features two waterfalls pouring into pools on the original footprints of the two towers. The pools are surrounded by granite walls bearing the 2,982 names of victims of the two separate attacks at the trade center, at the Pentagon and on Flight 93.
Those who died in 2001 included more than 400 rescue workers. Among them were 343 firefighters and 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority. Their names are emblazoned on plaques in firehouses, at police headquarters and in memorials throughout the city and neighboring counties.
Rosaleen Tallon, 40, who lost her brother, Sean, a rookie firefighter who was 26 when died helping people evacuate, said she would attend the Ground Zero event as she has for the last 10 years.
She said her memorial exists inside her brother’s firehouse, Ladder10/Engine 10, blocks from the trade center, and in a spot in the sky above the North Tower, not in the pools and granite walls engraved with names of the dead.
“We never needed something so huge and so expensive,” she said. “For generations to come, will they come to this memorial and experience the loss as we experienced it on 9/11? That’s my concern.”
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