Attack victims honored at 9/11 memorial in NYC

September 11, 2011 9:03:48 PM PDT
America, along with the rest of the world, marked the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on Sunday.

A memorial service was held Sunday morning in New York City.

The sun rose over ground zero, and bright sunshine illuminated a blue sky -- exactly the way Sept. 11, 2001 looked one decade ago.

In the silence of the September morning, two presidents and their wives walked around the memorial fountain that neither man could ever have anticipated. Ten years ago Sunday, Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator and George W. Bush was president of the United States.

Then, came the attacks on America that were being marked Sunday. Two jetliners were taken over by al-Qaida terrorists and commandeered into New York City's twin towers.

Signaled by a column of bagpipes and corralled by layers of security checkpoints, searches and snipers scouring nearby windows and rooftops, the ceremony began with President Obama reading a Psalm from the Bible's Old Testament while standing behind a plate of bulletproof glass.

"Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea," Obama said.

Then stepping behind the glass himself, former President Bush read from a famous letter by Abraham Lincoln to the mother of five sons who died in the Civil War.

"I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement," Bush said.

And then came the reading of the nearly 3,000 names, by now a familiar list of the souls that perished that morning when the twin towers collapsed.

"God bless every soul that we lost. God bless the family members who have to endure that loss, and God guide us to our reunion in heaven," said Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York.

There was some controversy in New York City over who would be allowed to attend the ceremonies Sunday. Some first responders were angry for a time that they would not being allowed to attend. The people who did attend were family members, loved ones and close friends of those who died 10 years ago Sunday.

Citywide moments of silence were observed and houses of worship throughout New York City rang their bells at 8:46 a.m. Eastern time to mark the time the first plane struck the North Tower.

At 9:03 a.m. Eastern time, another moment of silence. That is when the second plane, the United Airlines jetliner from Boston struck the South Tower.

Other moments of silence were observed at the times that both towers collapsed and at the time the plane crashed in Shanksville, Penn., and at the time the plane went into the Pentagon.

In years past, the backdrop for 9/11 memorials at ground zero was nothing but a pit, a construction site. It was dirt. The first few years, family members had to walk down planks of plywood just to get to the site where the names were being read.

Now, it has been transformed into a very vibrant kind of memorial. There are trees. There is grass. There is water flowing on both of the sites where the twin towers once stood, and there is construction going on around it. What is now called World Trade Center One is currently about halfway to the height that it will be when it is completed. It will be taller than the Willis Tower in Chicago, which is currently the biggest building in the United States. World Trade Center One will surpass that, and it will be the tallest building anywhere in the country, an amazing transformation.

Security high in NYC for Sept. 11 anniversary
The security near the memorial was incredibly tight and being overseen by the Secret Service. However, there were as many as 20 federal, state and local agencies imaking sure that people are not only protected at the memorial but could safely participate in the ceremonies being held.

Whenever the president of the United States attends an event, there is increased security, but even more so when you have the current president, the former president who was in office at the time 9/11 happened, and very high emotion and worldwide attention.

Not only has New York City become a target once again because of those things, but also information was received by the CIA and the FBI a few days ago indicating that there was a fresh plot to set off car bombs or other kinds of explosives and get in the way of what was supposed to happen Sunday.

Even as 9/11 ceremonies finished, there was a sharp reminder that federal authorities are still on edge. Two separate commercial jet liners -- one at New York's JFK Airport and another headed to Detroit -- were both escorted by two F-16 fighter jets that were called in by Air Marshals on the plane when several passengers spent too much time in the bathrooms. Whatever happened in those bathrooms, officials say is was not terrorism. Nobody was charged in either incident.

There was a third air travel-related incident on Sunday at the Kansas City airport when authorities intercepted what they believed to be a bomb in a passenger's piece of luggage. It turned out that it was a hoax bomb. It is unclear if charges will be filed in the case.

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