Attack's Sting Noted Worldwide

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Marking the exact moment of the World Trade Center attack and vowing to defeat terrorism, Americans gathered at ground zero, in Washington and around the nation Tuesday to commemorate the day three months ago that more than 3,300 people died.

Similar ceremonies were held in more than 70 nations, and American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts orbiting 200 miles above the Earth in the international space station also noted the day by playing each other's national anthems.

"In time, perhaps, we will mark the memory of September the 11th in stone and metal," President Bush said at a White House ceremony. "But for those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we'll ever need is the tick of a clock at the 46th minute of the eighth hour of the 11th day."

At ground zero, under gray skies and misting rain, Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders held a brief interfaith service honoring the dead. The ceremony began at 8:40 a.m. EST, six minutes before the first hijacked airplane hit one of the World Trade Center towers three months ago.

As a crowd of more than 300 firefighters, excavation crews and other rescue workers quietly doffed their helmets, police bagpipers began playing "Amazing Grace," followed by a lone trumpeter playing the "Star Spangled Banner." The event was not open to the public or the victim's families.

"We say to the world that they took down our towers, but they will not take away our traditions," said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, noting the menorah celebrating the festival of Hanukkah and the Christmas tree placed in the still-smoldering ruins. "They took down those structures, but they will not take away this spirit."

An eerie quiet hung over the sprawling disaster site, and all recovery work momentarily halted during the service, which was attended by New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, New York Gov. George Pataki and other local dignitaries. The ceremony concluded with a quartet from the Big Apple Chorus performing "This is the Moment" a cappella, and Broadway performer William Michals singing "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

In the Washington area, which was also hit by terrorism on Sept. 11, official observances were held at the White House, the Pentagon and the Capitol. Speakers honored those who died in the attack on the Pentagon, as well as the passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, who stymied an apparent plan to crash the plane into the White House or the Capitol.

"We remember the cruelty of the murderers and the pain and the anguish of the murdered," said Bush, standing with his wife, Laura, their hands over their hearts as a Marine band played the national anthem. "Every one of the innocents who died on Sept. 11 was the most important person on Earth to somebody. Every death extinguished a world."

In brief remarks preceding a moment of silence and the playing of the national anthem, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) told colleagues in the Capitol's Statuary Hall that "one day, the killers will be brought to justice, and the war against terror will be over. Long after that day, people in America and throughout the world who love freedom will still remember the people who died on Sept. 11 and draw strength from the lessons they taught us. In that way, they will live forever."

At the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led a ceremony that began at 9:38 a.m.--precisely three months after another hijacked plane plowed into the building.

"The men and women aboard Flight 93, who gave their lives in the skies over Pennsylvania . . . the thousands lost in the trade center towers, the policemen and firefighters who perished trying to save them, and all our brave military and civilian colleagues who reported for duty here but did not return home--if they could see how our country is united to preserve freedom from terror, they'd be proud," Rumsfeld said.

"They'd be proud of our unity, proud of our strength, and proud of the determination to find, root out and deal with the evil of terrorism and those who seek to terrorize--and we will," he added.

Elsewhere, Americans held brief ceremonies to remember those who died. In Portland, Ore., a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" in the predawn darkness before a crowd of police officers, firefighters and the public. The group observed a moment of silence before singing the national anthem.

"We're here to honor the innocent victims of those attacks and the brave men and women who tried to save them," said Mayor Vera Katz.

In East Hartford, Conn., striking workers at jet-engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney halted their picketing to observe a moment of silence. The strikers took off their hats and bowed their heads in respect.

"It's to honor those people; they lost a hell of a lot more than we're losing," said Ron Wilson, a pipe-fitter from Manchester, Conn.

As light snow fell in Albuquerque, more than 60 members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house lighted candles and gathered with campus police officers at the University of New Mexico to observe a moment of silence. And in Rhode Island, fifth-grade students rang a replica of the Liberty Bell three times to commemorate the attacks. The children then led a group of legislators and other state officials in singing the national anthem.

As a sign of support for America's counter-terrorism effort, Bush had asked countries all over the world to play their own national anthems at the exact moment that hijacked planes smashed into the World Trade Center.

In a short but moving ceremony in London, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and British Prime Minister Tony Blair marked the day as an octet brass band from the American School of London played "God Save the Queen" and the American national anthem in front of 10 Downing St.

More than 70 other countries held ceremonies, across six continents, from Albania to Vietnam, Bosnia to Botswana, Kazakhstan to South Korea, according to the State Department. The commemorations varied from a Lisbon gathering of firefighters, religious leaders and relatives of Portuguese victims killed at the World Trade Center and the presentation of a condolence book to the American Embassy in Switzerland, to a wreath-laying at a memorial to American troops who were killed in World War II in what is now the Czech Republic.

The observances even reached into outer space, where an American and two Russians engaged in a show of solidarity.

"On Sept. 11, people all around the world were affected by this terrible event," said Frank Culbertson, the international space station commander at the time of the attacks who saw the flames in New York and at the Pentagon while in orbit with Russian crew mates Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin. "We, of course, were affected up here also. We all lost countrymen and some of us even lost friends."

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Getlin reported from New York, Chen from Washington and Wright from London.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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