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Congress to Commemorate 9-11 in NYC


Friday in New York City, U.S. lawmakers are to hold a special joint session to commemorate the events of September 11. The rare event outside of Washington will honor the victims and heroes of that day, and express solidarity with New York City.

About 180 legislators from the House of Representatives, and half the 100-member Senate will board a train early Friday at Washington's Union Station, bound for New York.

On arrival, they will go to #26 Wall Street, the site of Federal Hall. It was on that site, the original old City Hall of New York, that the first national legislature convened in 1789.

Congress last met outside Washington on two occasions in 1987 and 1989. After September 11, there were concerns about holding another such session - prominent among which was whether the security of lawmakers could be assured.

But these concerns were outweighed by the importance of the occasion the anniversary of the terrorist attacks that left New York physically scarred.

Republican Congressman Vito Fossella, who represents a district in Staten Island, New York, says the Congressional session will honor those who lost their lives, family members who survive them, and send a message about New York's resiliency.

"Isn't it wonderful in this country, that we can come together, to unify, to stand together, in the face of that evil that attacked freedom on September 11," he asked. "That we as a Congress, the elected representatives from across this country can go to New York and stand shoulder to shoulder with all those New Yorkers who showed the world why we believe we are the capital of the world? To show the world what a great place this is?"

Democrat Anthony Weiner says New York has "bounced back" since September 11. Where before there was destruction and fear, he says, can now be found determination and optimism.

"It is indeed, a celebration. We are celebrating our democracy. We are celebrating our resilience, and we are celebrating our national victory over fear, and over the terrorists," he said. "Here we will stand one-year after an attack that seemed to be almost debilitating, and we will find that it takes more than just a body shot to our national psyche to keep us down."

The special Congressional joint session takes place amid a debate in New York City about what kind of structure or monument should be built where the World Trade Center and other buildings once stood.

New York democrat Jerrold Nadler, spoke recently on the floor of the House of Representatives about the message he believes the congressional session in New York will send.

"To say to the terrorists, you have not accomplished anything," he said. "You may have wounded us, you may have hurt us, you may have cost 3,000 lives for whom we grieve, but you have not seriously hurt the United States. You have not defeated the United States and you will not."

Friday's congressional session will last only one hour. There will be speeches by congressional leaders from both parties, and a joint resolution expressing solidarity with New York City.

Later, lawmakers will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the World Trade Center site.

The Annenberg Foundation, a private foundation, is helping New York City defray the costs of the congressional session, one of a series of events leading up to the September 11 anniversary.

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