Recreational sailors are calling on thousands of people to gather in their yachts and sailboats in New York harbor to mark the anniversary of last year's terrorist attacks. The event is being billed as the largest patriotic gathering of boats in American history.
After the first hijacked plane slammed into the World Trade Center on September 11, Michael Fortenbaugh, who lives near the site, took his family in a motorboat and found safety across the Hudson River in the State of New Jersey.
Now, Mr. Fortenbaugh, along with the New York Harbor Sailing Foundation, is organizing "Sail for America," a tribute to the victims of the tragedy.
At least 3,000 sailboats from across the United States, 9-11 rescue boats, yachts, wind-surfers, and some tall ships are expected to meet in New York Harbor in a water parade that will converge near Ground Zero, where the twin towers once stood.
The boats will carry flags for each of the victims of the September 11 attacks. The children of some of those who perished will also sail on the ships.
Mr. Fortenbaugh says the event, which will take place on September 14, at the end of a week of memorials, aims to mark remembrance and renewal.
"Out of great tragedy and destruction, Americans are going to create a symbol of hope and beauty," he said. "We believe that New Yorkers will be able to come down to the waterfront and look out into the harbor and the image of white sails sailing by, which is quiet, beautiful, dignified, we believe that helps create the spirit of rebirth."
Mr. Fortenbaugh announced the event against a backdrop of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. He says that in the early 19th century, New York was the sailing capital of the nation. He says the sport continues to have a therapeutic effect. "Sailing in the harbor is a great emotional experience. People need to fall back in love with this city after 9/11 and there is no better way to do it than to hop on a sail boat, go out in the harbor, sail, look back at the skyline, you will recognize the beauty that is still here," said Mr. Fortenbaugh."
Sailboats participating in an-around-the-world race are also expected to join "Sail for America." The fleet of 20 single-handed sailboats will then begin their race from New York for the first time in solidarity with the city.