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9/11 Anniversary Observances Filled with Emotion


Remembrance ceremonies, both large and small, took place across the United States Monday to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone in Washington has more on the emotional toll for those who lost loved ones in the attack.

In a rural Pennsylvania field, relatives of victims of United Airlines Flight 93 gathered to remember loved ones.

Richard Gross lost his sister when hijackers crashed the plane, as they tried to fend off passengers intent on preventing the flight from hitting either the White House or the Capitol building in Washington.

"You never can put it to rest," said Richard Gross. "A terrible, terrible thing."

Among those paying tribute to the 40 passengers and crewmembers of Flight 93 was former Homeland Security chief and former Pennsylvania governor, Tom Ridge.

"History will tell of these extraordinary people, who rose to defeat evil, and were released into the arms of angels to see the grateful face of God," said Tom Ridge.

In New York, at the site of the World Trade Center, known as Ground Zero, spouses and partners read the names of loved ones who died in the collapse of the 110-story twin towers.

Carmen Suarez lost her husband in the attack.

"My loving husband, police officer Ramon Suarez," said Carmen Suarez. "Honey, everyone misses you - your children, your family, especially your little girl, Jillian."

Donna Marsh-O'Connor says the loss of her daughter in the attack on the World Trade Center remains very difficult five years later.

"So, I miss her profoundly, and I know what she looked like on her final day," admitted Donna Marsh-O'Connor. "My son-in-law died a year ago, and, in many ways, I have a broken heart."

Nearly 2,800 people died at Ground Zero, and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urged Americans never to forget their sacrifice.

"God bless all of those we lost," said Rudolph Giuliani. "God bless all of you, who mourn for them, remember them and live on in their spirit."

At the Pentagon, outside Washington, an emotional Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recalled the rescue effort, when a hijacked plane slammed into the building, killing 184 people.

"I remember working our way through that long, tragic day," he said.

Reflections also came from President Bush. He spoke about the personal impact of the attacks with NBC's Today program.

"My thinking about the world was changed dramatically on that day," said President Bush. "I realized that my most important responsibility, and that of all of us in government, was to protect the people."

Church services to mark the 9/11 anniversary were held in Chicago and many other cities.

Airline passengers and security screeners paused for a moment of silence at airports in Boston and Dallas.

In Ohio, volunteers placed 3,000 American flags on the grounds of a spiritual center to remember those who died in the September 11 attacks.