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Bush to visit sites of Sept. 11 terror attacks

'A day of tears and a day of prayer and a day of national resolve'

President Bush leads a moment of silence at the White House Wednesday morning.
President Bush leads a moment of silence at the White House Wednesday morning.  

From Kelly Wallace
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will take part in a daylong tribute on Wednesday, traveling to the three sites of last year's terrorist attacks to honor the approximately 3,000 lives lost in a "respectful and solemn way" and outline the "task that lies ahead as we continue defending freedom," the White House said Tuesday.

"Tomorrow is going to be a hard day for a lot of Americans," Bush said Tuesday at an event at the Afghan Embassy in Washington. "It's going to be a day of tears and a day of prayer and a day of national resolve. It also needs to be a day in which we confirm the values which make us unique and great."

Investigators say the White House was probably the target of hijacked American Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in rural Pennsylvania on 9-11. CNN's John King reports (September 10)

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Bush and first lady Laura Bush will begin the one-year anniversary of the attacks at a private church service in Washington before attending a moment of silence at the White House at 8:46 a.m. ET, the moment the first hijacked plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. (Click here for an itinerary of the President's events)

The Bushes will then travel to the Pentagon for an observance, remembering the lives lost when American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building. They will then travel to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, for a wreath-laying ceremony at 12:35 p.m. ET at the site where United Flight 93 crashed.

It will be the president's first visit to the site, while the first lady traveled there in the days following the attacks.

Before the president's arrival, White House Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge -- who was the Pennsylvania governor at this time last year -- will lead a White House delegation, taking part in a commemoration ceremony at 10:06 a.m. ET, the time when Flight 93 crashed into the ground after passengers battled with hijackers.

It was that flight that resulted in the popular rallying cry of "Let's Roll!" -- the final known words uttered by Todd Beamer before he and the passengers went on the offensive and overtook the hijackers. The plane was headed back for the nation's capital, most likely aiming for the White House or U.S. Capitol.

"What happened in Shanksville saved a lot of lives. There [are] many people who think it saved their life -- co-workers, the staff of the president, and he's heard from those people, 'They saved my life," Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary, told reporters.

"We'll probably never know if the plane ultimately was headed toward the White House or the Capitol. But no matter where it was ultimately headed, the act of heroism that took place on that aircraft stands out as one of the most amazing feats of heroism in our country's long history of heroes."

The president and the first lady will then travel to New York City and participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the site where the 110-story twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood, now commonly referred to as "Ground Zero."

At 9:01 p.m. ET, Bush will address the nation from Ellis Island, White House officials said.

Bush and the first lady attend a private church service to begin the day.
Bush and the first lady attend a private church service to begin the day.  

"On September 11, the president will honor those whose lives were lost in a respectful and solemn way," said Scott McClellan, White House deputy press secretary. "He will also talk about the task that lies ahead as we continue defending freedom and honoring those who gave their lives that day."

Bush will remain in New York City to speak to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.




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