U.S. President George W. Bush will visit the site of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, as part of ceremonies marking the first anniversary of the deadly terrorist attack. New York officials are planning a low-key ceremony at the site.
The observance is timed to begin at 8:46 a.m., when a hijacked airliner hit the first of the World Trade Center's twin towers, and end at 10:28 when the second tower collapsed.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city considered thousands of proposals before finalizing plans that he describes as "simple and powerful."
Five bagpipe and drum processionals, representing the five counties that make up New York City, will converge at the World Trade Center site. New York State Governor George Pataki will begin the ceremony by reading the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln's speech commemorating fallen heroes during the U.S. Civil War.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will then lead a group reading aloud the names of the more than 2,800 people who died in the Trade Center attack. James McGreevey, governor of the neighboring state of New Jersey, home to many of the victims, will read an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence.
Houses of worship throughout the city are asked to toll their bells as the ceremony ends. At that time, victims' families will descend to the lowest level of the former World Trade Center carrying roses that will be incorporated into the permanent memorial when it is built.
Christy Ferrer, who lost her husband on September 11 and serves as Mayor Bloomberg's liaison to the victims' families, says the families are grateful that time has been set aside for them to spend at the site. "It was very important for them to be able to go down to Ground Zero, for many of them, and touch and feel that area," she said. "For them it remains a cemetery, a sacred ground."
President George Bush will visit the Trade Center site late in the afternoon. And many heads of state who will be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly are expected to attend a sunset ceremony where an eternal flame will be lit. Mr. Bloomberg will read the Four Freedoms message President Franklin Roosevelt delivered to the U.S. Congress in January 1941, which helped lay the groundwork for the United Nations.
Mr. Bloomberg says he and Governor Pataki chose the readings from the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address and the Four Freedoms because they rallied and inspired Americans at historic points of challenge and threat.
"The governor and I both feel very strongly the terrorists are not going to beat us. This is America. There have been people fighting and dying for 226 years to protect everything that we hold dear and the terrorists found so threatening. Twenty-eight hundred more people have given their lives to protect that and we are not going to walk away," he vowed.
Other observations will take place around the city throughout the day and evening, including a number of candlelight gatherings, reminiscent of the hundreds of spontaneous vigils in which New Yorkers participated in the days and weeks following September 11, 2001.