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U.S. marks 6 months since September 11

March 11, 2002 Posted: 11:19 a.m. EST (1619 GMT)

World Trade Center collapse
Temporary memorials are being unveiled Monday in New York to honor the victims of the World Trade Center attacks.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Six months after terrorists brought death and destruction to the heart of New York, the halls of the Pentagon and a quiet field in rural Pennsylvania, the nation paused Monday to remember and reflect on the events of September 11.

The memorials began in New York at 8:46 a.m. EST, when the first hijacked plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg presided over the rededication Monday of a 45,000-pound sculpture called "The Sphere" in Manhattan's Battery Park.

"The sphere that rests behind me in many ways symbolizes New York," Bloomberg said of Fritz Koenig's steel-and-bronze sculpture, which once stood in the fountain of the trade center plaza.

"For 30 years, it stood in the World Trade Center as a symbol for peace. On September 11, it was damaged, not destroyed."

A second memorial, called Tribute of Light, will be illuminated at 6:30 p.m. near Ground Zero. The memorial consists of two columns of light beamed upward, reminiscent of the towers that once stood there.

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In the Bronx, the New York Police Department paid tribute Monday to the 23 officers killed in the World Trade Center collapse. Officers at the 40th Precinct stood at attention as names of their fallen comrades were read, then bowed their heads for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m.

"This and each anniversary should not be remembered for the evil act of violence, but for the goodness of these officers and their tremendous spirit that they ran without hesitation in harm's way and laid down their lives for the sake of others," Capt. Robert Boyce said.

In Washington, President Bush joined members of Congress and 150 ambassadors representing countries around the world for a midmorning ceremony on the south lawn of the White House.

"September 11 was not the beginning of global terror, but it was the beginning of the world's concerted response," Bush said. "History will know that day not only as a day of tragedy, but as a day of decision, when the civilized world was stirred to anger and to action. And the terrorists will remember September 11 as the day their reckoning began."

Later in the morning, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will preside over a ceremony at the Pentagon, which was struck by one of the four hijacked planes. He will welcome representatives from countries that have joined the U.S.-led war against terrorism, launched in response to the attacks.

And in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, church bells tolled for the victims of United Flight 93 at 10:06 a.m. EST, the time at which the plane crashed into a nearby field after passengers rose up in defiance of their captors.

'They died so we could be free'

Earlier Monday, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose response to the terrorist attacks made him a national hero to many Americans, said he thinks about September 11 every day.

"I always think about, and did from the very beginning, the tremendous courage of all of those people -- the rescue workers, just the ordinary citizens," he said on CNN's "American Morning."

"They conducted themselves with such bravery that they lifted all of us and set a standard that we had to reach since we were the fortunate ones who got to live. They died so we could be free." (Transcript)

Even as the nation pauses Monday to mark the milestone, U.S. troops in Afghanistan remain in battle, trying to root out members of the al Qaeda terrorist network blamed for the attacks and the former Taliban regime that harbored them. (Full story)

The U.S. military also has begun preparing to carry the campaign into other countries, including the Philippines, Yemen and the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

"One of the things the president said early on, and that I think we all certainly agree with, is this is going to be a very, very long campaign," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer."


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