Across the United States, Americans marked the seventh anniversary of
the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks with solemn memorial services
and heartfelt tributes. Mona Ghuneim reports from VOA's New York Bureau.
years after the attacks, New Yorkers gathered at "ground zero," the
site where the World Trade Center skyscrapers once stood.
years past, the ceremony included four moments of silence, twice to
mark the time that two hijacked airliners crashed into the twin towers
and twice at the time of morning when each building collapsed in an
inferno of flames and smoke.
This year, family members and
students representing victims who came from scores of nations around
the world read aloud the names of more than 2,700 people who died in
New York on September 11, 2001.
The children of John Salvatore, who worked at the World Trade Center, spoke about their father when their turn came to read.
1: "My dad died on 9/11, but he is not gone. Just look at each of our
faces and you will see him shine through us every day."
Child 2: "We love you, Daddy.
city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, the keynote speaker at the memorial
ceremony, said Americans come together on this day to bear witness to a
"day which began like any other, and ended as none ever has." "We
return this morning as New Yorkers, Americans and global citizens
remembering the innocent people from 95 nations and territories that
lost their lives together that day," he said.
President Bush and first lady Laura Bush observed a moment of silence
at the White House. The president then attended the dedication of a new
September 11 memorial at the Pentagon, where 184 people died when
another hijacked plane crashed into the building.
memorial is the first of three major September 11 memorials to be
completed. It is made of stone benches, each engraved with a victim's
The president says he hopes the memorial will provide
some peace and comfort to the victims' friends and families. "People
from across our nation will come here to remember friends and loved
ones who never had the chance to say goodbye. A memorial can never
replace what those of you mourning a loved one have lost."
the 9/11 structure in Washington is complete, the controversy over the
New York memorial continues. Seven years after the attacks, "ground
zero" is still a construction site. And many New Yorkers are
frustrated by years of delays and disagreements about their monument's
The memorial and a new skyscraper should be complete
by 2012, but construction work will alter anniversary ceremonies before
then. This year, as they have in the past, the victims' family members
walked down a ramp to the bottom of the site, at bedrock about 15
meters below ground, where they left wreaths, flowers and mementos of
their loved ones. As construction progresses, this may no longer be
Henry Bustillo, whose brother died on September 11,
hopes the ramp will remain. "Hopefully, they will continue on having
the ceremony down at the pit, downstairs, because it [won't] feel the
same if they have it up here."
An official memorial in
Shanksville, Pennsylvania, is also years away from being built.
However, services were held there Thursday in the field where another
passenger jet went down. Forty-four people died aboard the hijacked
plane, which dove at full speed into a field, apparently as the
passengers struggled with their captors, trying to regain control of
Republican presidential candidate John McCain
took part in the ceremony in Pennsylvania before heading to New York.
In Shanksville, McCain paid special tribute to those who died there
because they are believed to have disrupted the hijackers' plan to
attack another target in Washington. "I've had the great honor and
privilege to witness great courage and sacrifice for America's sake,
but none greater than the sacrifice of those good people who grasped
the gravity of the moment, understood the threat and decided to fight
back at the cost of their lives."
McCain and his Democratic
rival, Barack Obama, appeared together at "ground zero" late Thursday
to pay their respects and speak with mourners, including police and
firefighters who honored more than 300 of their comrades who died on
Laying politics aside for the day, the
presidential candidates placed flowers at the World Trade Center site.
They will speak Thursday at a forum on public service at Columbia
As in years past, two bright blue beams of light
will shine all night over New York City from the spot where the fallen