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September 11 Memorial Includes Foreign Leaders - 2002-09-12

Foreign leaders gathered near the site where the World Trade Center once stood to light an eternal flame in memory of the more than three thousand victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The final official ceremony began at sunset, capping a day of tributes in New York on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Like earlier memorials, this one for foreign leaders in New York for the United Nations General Assembly also relied on symbolism.

Mayor Bloomberg and a retired firefighter who lost his two sons, a firefighter and a police officer, in the attacks ignited an eternal flame.

Children who lost relatives participated, too.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan passed candles to dozens of foreign leaders, including Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai.

After reading an excerpt from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1941 speech on the Four Freedoms, freedom of speech and worship, and freedom from want and fear for the entire world, Mayor Bloomberg offered a few brief original words.

"For our country, September 11 will always be a date of sorrow. The heart-breaking anniversary of great loss that we share with 91 nations. But the memories of those we lost will burn with unending brightness and ignite a flame of freedom that lights the world," Mayor Bloomberg said.

Heads of state from every country that lost citizens in the attacks were invited to attend.

The ceremony was held at a park near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center used to stand.

Behind the eternal flame, rests "the Sphere," a sculpture which miraculously survived the collapse of the twin towers.

"The Sphere" symbolized "peace through world trade" at the entrance of the World Trade Center complex. Now, the sculpture, damaged but recently restored, represents the resolve to rebuild.

Now an interim memorial, "the Sphere" and the eternal flame are expected to become part of a permanent memorial to the victims of the attacks.

The ceremony concluded with America the Beautiful.

New Yorkers also heard the patriotic song at public candlelight vigils and commemorative concerts.

A day of tributes that began at Ground Zero at 8:46 in the morning, the exact time when the first hijacked airplane hit the World Trade Center one year ago, was over. In the end music filled the air in parks throughout New York City.