This September 11th will mark five years since the terrorist attacks that killed 2,973 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The anniversary will be commemorated with events around the country, with the major events taking place in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, the places where the four hijacked planes crashed. President Bush will visit all three of the attack sites on September 11th.
NEW YORK CITY
The ceremony will follow the same format as has been used in the previous four anniversaries since the attacks, except that this year the spouses, partners and significant others who lost a loved one will read the names of the 2,749 people who died at the World Trade Center. In the first year after the attacks, the list of names was read by politicians, dignitaries and some relatives, children of the dead read them in 2003, parents and grandparents of the victims took their turn in 2004, and last year siblings of those lost did the reading.
The program will begin at the Trade Center site with an introduction before the first pause for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the moment the first plane hit the North Tower. Houses of worship throughout the city will toll their bells at the same time. The names of the dead will then begin to be read, while family members descend the ramp down into the site, where they'll be able to lay flowers. There will be three other moments of silence during the ceremony, pausing the reading of names, to mark when the second plane struck the South Tower at 9:03 a.m., when the first tower fell at 9:59 a.m., and when the second fell at 10:29 a.m.. After the reading of the names concludes, trumpeters from the New York Police Department and Fire Department will play "Taps" and there will be a final musical performance.
Later in the day, at dusk, the "Tribute in Light" -- twin beams of light shooting up into the sky -- will be illuminated nearby in lower Manhattan for one night. The Tribute in Light was first lit on March 11, 2002, the six-month anniversary of the attacks, and was lit up every night after that for one month. It has also been lit on attack anniversaries since then.
The Pentagon will mark the anniversary beginning on September 9th, offering public tours that will include the site of the attack on the building in which 184 people were killed. The next day, on September 10th, the National "Freedom Walk" will begin at 6:30 p.m. on the National Mall and finish at the Pentagon with a tribute by opera singer Denyse Graves and an illumination ceremony. That ceremony will include 184 beams of light to commemorate each victim, and the lights will remain lit through September 11th. On the actual day of the attacks, there will be a Family Memorial Ceremony outside the Pentagon Mall Entrance that's closed to the public. That ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m., just minutes before the moment that the plane struck at 9:37 a.m. Then, at 10 a.m., a Pentagon Employee Memorial Ceremony, also closed to the public, will take place in the Pentagon Auditorium.
The ceremony at the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, field where one of the four planes crashed after passengers tried to fight the hijackers, will begin at 9:15 a.m. The names of the 40 passengers and crewmembers who died will be read after a moment of silence at 10:03 a.m., when the plane crashed. The Bells of Remembrance will also be rung during the reading of the names. Among those who'll speak at the ceremony will be former Pennsylvania Governor and First Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge.
REBUILDING THE WTC SITE
Construction finally began in April on the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan, after a redesign due to security concerns and four years of squabbling between developer Larry Silverstein, who'd owned the Twin Towers, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land. Under the agreement, Silverstein will build the Freedom Tower, but give it to the Port Authority once it's completed. He will also build three other smaller office towers on the site, which he'll keep, and the Port Authority will take over a nearby damaged building that will be rebuilt for residential use. There will also be a memorial, museum and cultural center at the site.
Construction began in March on the World Trade Center Memorial, whose design, called "Reflecting Absence," by architect Michael Arad, was chosen in 2004 from more than 5,200 entries. The memorial will mark the fallen Twin Towers with voids in their original footprints, each holding a pool of water filled by waterfalls on all sides. The pools will be surrounded by a forest of oak trees at street level. The memorial is scheduled to be completed in September 2009.
Construction began in June on the Pentagon's memorial, which is due to be finished in September 2008. Located on the west lawn of the Pentagon, it will include 184 metal benches, one for each victim, sitting above reflecting pools of water amid dozens of maple trees. The benches will be organized in a timeline of the victims' ages, ranging from 3-year-old Dana Falkenberg to 71-year-old John Yamnicky. Of the 184 people killed in the attack, 125 were in the Pentagon and 59 were passengers and crew members on the plane.
The winning design was chosen last September for the memorial to the victims of Flight 93. Among the features of the 2,000-acres memorial site is the Tower of Voices at the entrance containing 40 metallic wind chimes, one for each of the passengers and crew members who died. Pedestrian trails and a roadway will lead to the centerpiece of the memorial called the Bowl, a natural, circular land formation that will be surrounded by groves of Red and Sugar Maple trees and include the actual crash site, where there will be a white marble wall inscribed with the 40 names of the dead. Construction is set to begin in 2008, with a targeted opening date of September 2011, the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.