Contentious elections, general annoyances and all the other distractions that make up every day life in 2008 faded to grey today as Americans remembered the 2,974 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In New York at Ground Zero, Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower of the World Trade Center. “We come each year to stand alongside those who loved and lost the most, to bear witness to the day which began like any other and ended as none ever has,” Bloomberg said.
“It lives forever in our hearts and in our history, a tragedy that unites us in a common memory and a common story,” Bloomberg said. “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.”
Family members began reading the names of their loves ones killed in the attacks, interrupted only when Bloomberg called for moments of silence at 9:03 a.m. to mark the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south tower; at 9:59 a.m., the time of the collapse of the south tower; and at 10:29 a.m., when the north tower collapsed.
Thousands gathered in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, overlooking the site of the World Trade Center on the seventh anniversary of its collapse.
John McCain and Barack Obama agreed to suspend campaigning for the day, and were due to arrive at Ground Zero for a 3:30 p.m. wreath-laying ceremony.
At the White House, President George Bush, along with Laura Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney, observed a moment of silence on the South Lawn at 8:46 a.m.
President Bush also attended the dedication of a memorial to the 184 victims of the Pentagon attack. “On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose,” Bush said, adding, “One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in America’s history.”
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield, who helped carry victims out of the burning Pentagon building 7 years ago and who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to the memorial effort, said, “We will never forget the way this huge building shook. We will not forget our colleagues and friends who were taken from us and their families.”
(For more information about the Pentagon memorial, see "9/11 Pentagon Memorial Honors 184 Lost Lives.".)