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11 March 2002

New York City Remembers September 11 with Multiple Ceremonies

(Observances honor the fallen, look to a better future) (1240)
By Judy Aita
Washington File Staff Writer
New York -- New York City observed the six-month anniversary of the
terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center March 11 with a series of
brief ceremonies that reflected not only the grief and loss the city
and nation have felt, but also the determination to gather from the
destruction and the courage of victims a will to defeat terrorism and
build a better future.
The main event was held in the morning during the time of the two
attacks at Battery Park, located in lower Manhattan not far from the
World Trade Center. It was the dedication of a temporary memorial
using "The Sphere" sculpture recovered from the Trade Center wreckage.
The 15-foot in diameter, 45,000-pound steel and bronze sculpture was
created by Fritz Koenig in 1971 as a monument to fostering peace
through world trade. It sat atop a granite fountain in the center of
the World Trade Center plaza. On September 11 it sustained a gash
through its center but remained structurally intact and has been
installed in historic Battery Park facing New York harbor adjacent to
the Hope Garden.
The sphere "survived the collapse of the twin towers as did the idea
that spawned its creation: a peaceful world based on trade and the
free movement of people and ideas," said New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg. "The sphere may be damaged but our belief in the principles
it represents has never been stronger. That is what we stand for as
New Yorkers, as we always have in the past and as we always will in
the future."
The program was stopped twice for a minute of silence at the time each
attack occurred. The first, at 8:46 a.m. when the hijacked American
Airlines flight 11 hit the north tower and again at 9:03 when the
second plane hit the south tower -- and as Rudy Giuliani, who was New
York City mayor on September 11, said "we knew that we had been
attacked and attacked in a way unlike any other American had ever been
attacked before."
Just before the silence, Bloomberg told the families of the victims
and officials gathered: "Look into your hearts to remember those no
longer with us and also to think about how we can go forward...to
build the kind of future that they would want for all of us."
"I think they would have wanted us to make a better world. They would
have wanted us to show the terrorists that they cannot defeat us. They
would have wanted us to make sure we build a life where people can go
and practice their religion, where people go and say what they want to
say -- everything that America was build on. That is our
responsibility to continue," the mayor said.
Bloomberg was joined by New York Governor George Pataki, former New
York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, members of the fire and police
departments, as well as family members of those who died in the
attack. They all spoke about not only what was lost on September 11
but what was gained: the realization of how strong Americans are and
of America's potential as a country.
As the ceremony was taking place in Battery Park, policemen and women
gathered outside each police station throughout the city for a
remembrance that included the reading of the names of the 23 policemen
who died in the rescue effort during the attacks.
"We will go on," Bloomberg said. "We will make New York City a better
city. We will make America a better country and we will make the world
a better place for everybody in the future."
"We cannot under any circumstances be deterred by the terrorists from
what America is all about, from our mission to leave for generations
to come a place where they can raise their families, practice their
religion, say what they want to say....We cannot let the terrorists
ever think they have beaten us and we cannot let our guard down ever
again," said the mayor.
Pataki said that on September 11 the world saw "the worst of mankind,
the face of evil" in the attacks and the best of humanity from those
on the ground "which was to respond to evil with good, respond to
terror with love."
"The Sphere in many ways symbolizes New York," the governor said. "It
is a sphere that for 30 years stood in the plaza of the World Trade
Center as a symbol of global peace. On September 11, it was damaged,
but not destroyed and like New York it has been unearthed, unearthed
to serve a new purpose, to serve as a symbol of never forgetting those
heroes who died on September 11 and never forgetting that good will
overcome evil, courage will overcome terror, love will overcome
hatred, tolerance will overcome bigotry, and we will be united and
stronger because of their sacrifice."
Giuliani, who was at the site with other police and fire officials
when the towers collapsed and was almost trapped, said that for some
hours on September 11 he wondered "could America endure it. Could we
handle it, could we get through it."
Later during the first day, the former mayor said, he realized that
the rescue workers had given the city the example on which everyone
would build. "I realized that we had won the war against terrorism on
that first day," he said.
"We are now winning the battle, but we won the war because of their
bravery, their strength, their unwillingness to retreat in the face of
the worst attack that we as Americans had ever seen. Firefighters and
police officers stood there in the hallways, they stood there in the
lobby, so did the rescue workers and the emergency workers and many,
many hidden heroes -- the citizens and civilians who helped others,"
Giuliani said.
The memorial ended with the ringing of a fire bell in the
"five-five-five code," 25 chimes, which is the traditional signal for
a fallen firefighter, to remember the 343 firefighters who died.
The final memorial event will be at dusk with the lighting of the
"Tribute in Light," a temporary memorial at "ground zero" where the
search for victims bodies and the massive clean-up effort continues. A
12-year-old girl, Valerie Webb whose father was one of the 75 Port
Authority employees killed in the attack, will light the tribute as
the opera singer Jessye Norman sings "America the Beautiful."
The "Tribute in Light" will recreate the twin columns of the destroyed
World Trade Center towers as shafts of light using 88 searchlights in
two 50-foot square configurations. The shafts of light, conceived by
five architects and artists, will be visible for miles each night
until April 14 when the light will be extinguished permanently.
The lights are meant to be viewed as a votive candle, said Saskia
Levy, organizer of the project for the Municipal Art Society. "It will
have its time and its place and then it will go out."
No decision has been made on what type of permanent memorial will be
constructed in the years ahead.
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)



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