Honoring those who 'did not die in vain'
Bush: 'The first great struggle in a new century'
(CNN) -- Some sobbed softly, others stared straight ahead, remembering. Few seemed unmoved.
At the Pentagon outside Washington, in a field in Pennsylvania, at Ground Zero in New York, and in many other parts of the United States and the world, commemorative moments of silence were observed at the times at which hijacked jetliners slammed into terrorists' targets a year ago.
In his first comments of the day, President Bush insisted that those lost a year ago on September 11 "did not die in vain."
The first moment of silence was observed at 8:46 a.m. ET, the second at 9:03 a.m. -- the times at which planes hit the towers of the World Trade Center. A third came at 9:37 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon outside Washington and the fourth at 10:06 a.m., when United Airlines Flight 93 plowed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
In New York, church bells were also rung to mark the times at which the twin towers of the Trade Center collapsed.
At the Pentagon, a commemorative ceremony was opened by the U.S. Marine Corps Band and the unfurling of a huge American flag that was draped over the damaged part of the military complex last year. President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are attending that service. (Full story)
"Their loss," Bush said, "has moved a nation to action.... What happened to our nation on a September day set in motion the first great struggle in a new century."
In New York, Ground Zero drew construction workers, firefighters and police officers, the families and friends of victims and people who simply wanted to be close to the spot where officials now say 2,801 people lost their lives. Those killed at the Pentagon and in the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania bring the total to 3,025. (Full story)
A total 290 bagpipers had come from the five boroughs of New York to form a "circle of honor" on the floor of the Trade Center site. And as close to 200 readers named those who died in New York, thousands of people gathered in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra opened a ceremony there commemorating the crash of Flight 93, which killed 40 passengers and crew members. (Full story)
Under a cloudy sky and amid blustery winds, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge spoke at that service. Bush, after attending the Pentagon service, is to travel next to Somerset County, Pennsylvania, to lay a wreath at the Shanksville crash site. He then goes to New York to visit Ground Zero. (Full story)
The services in the United States have been preceded by international commemorations. (Full story)
In London, Prince Charles and British Prime Minister Tony Blair attended a service at St. Paul's Cathedral. Blair is expected to fly to New York for commemorative services later in the day. In an unusual moment for St. Paul's, the service's attendees were led in singing "The Star Spangled Banner."
French President Jacques Chirac and his wife joined U.S. Ambassador Howard Leach at the American Embassy in Paris for a quiet ceremony that ended with a French military band's mournful renditions of taps, followed by a defiantly spirited "La Marseillaise" and "The Star Spangled Banner."
In Berlin, a gathering at the Bundestag Dome included German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and readings from the New Testament's Beatitudes: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."
Among international observances, a program called the Rolling Requiem opened the first of a global string of performances of Mozart's Requiem with performances in New Zealand starting at 8:46 a.m. there. (Full story)
But despite the soul-bracing reach of these many events, a sense of peace may be hard for some to find.
It is in a context not only of profound sadness but also of raised national alert and nagging worry -- about the new scope of modern terrorism -- that people in many parts of the world Wednesday will pause to contemplate the vast vulnerability of civilization exposed on September 11.
However carefully planned and lovingly executed are these ceremonies, they take place amid starkly mixed feelings. For many people, the response simply is to redouble their resolve.
On the first anniversary of September 11, the United States is at code orange -- the second-highest threat alert level on the Office of Homeland Security's color-coded system. As part of the heightened state of alert, every federal air marshal is being deployed Wednesday, armed missile launchers are situated around the nation's capital, and airport security workers are conducting extensive searches of bags and passengers. (Full story)
Europe, too, is on high alert for the anniversary, amid a schedule of events in London, Rome, Brussels and other centers. (Full story)
Nevertheless, comfort is being held out to the American community as it comes together, by law enforcement workers and administration officials made newly watchful by the events of September 11.
Even as news of the heightened alert status was announced, Bush counseled Americans to "go about their lives. They just need to know that their government, at the federal and state and local level, will be on an extra level of alert to protect us." (Homeland Security terror warning system)
Granted, no amount of reassurance can ease all nerves on a day so reflective of such violence, especially with news of an elevated state of alert.
But messages of determined hope, however darkened by sadness, are heard in comments like those of the Pentagon's Sgt. Maj. Tony Rose, who told CNN about pulling nine people out of harm's way:
"For a while, there was some guilt associated with why didn't I die that day. But later as we took a look at the map of where people had died, I was assured to see that there was no one [lost] in the sector where I was -- we'd gotten them out.
"Maybe that's why I was there that day."
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