‘Our Nation Remembers’

A commuter, who did not want to be identified, stops and prays at a beam from the World Trade Center at a memorial in Jersey City, N.J., on the second anniversary of the terror attacks. (Daniel Hulshizer/AP Photo
A commuter, who did not want to be identified, stops and prays at a beam from the World Trade Center at a memorial in Jersey City, N.J., on the second anniversary of the terror attacks. (Daniel Hulshizer/AP Photo

Sept. 11— For the second anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history, the memorial service at Ground Zero in New York is looking to the future. END PRINT

Children are playing a leading role in the ceremony at the site of the World Trade Center, where 2,792 people were killed when two hijacked jetliners crashed into the twin towers, and the two buildings eventually collapsed.

After a pair of bagpipers and a drummer led a procession to bring an American flag down into the pit, a children's chorus sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." The bagpipers then played "Amazing Grace," before New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg read a statement, announcing that pairs of children who lost parents or relatives in the terrorist attacks would read the names of those who died.

"We come here to honor those that we lost, and to remember this day with sorrow," Bloomberg said.

After a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. ET to mark the moment when the first plane hit, the reading began. The pairs alternated reading the names, and many of the children finished their reading with the name of their relative who died in the attacks.

Christina Marie Aceto, 12, one of the first readers, said: "I love you, Daddy. I miss you a lot. Richard Anthony Aceto."

The list of names, which was expected to last for four hours, was interrupted for another moment of silence at 9:03 a.m. ET, when the second plane hit the north tower.

People began gathering before dawn for the Ground Zero ceremony. Many carried photographs of the loved ones they lost in the attacks, and the fences surrounding Ground Zero were festooned with flags, poems, notes, drawing and photographs in commemoration.

But the remembrance for some, started before midnight Wednesday, with a silent candlelight vigil at St. Paul's Church, a Revolutionary War-era church a stone's throw from the World Trade Center that miraculously survived the collapse of the twin towers and served as a relief center for the rescue workers.

President Bush, who began the day with a prayer service at St. John's Episcopal Church at Washington's Lafayette Square, was expected to sign proclamations to designate Sept. 11 a national day of prayer and remembrance to be known as Patriot Day, and to ask Americans to hold prayer services and candlelight vigils and to fly the flag at half-staff.

"Today our nation remembers," Bush said after he left the church. "We remember a sad and terrible day, Sept. 11, 2001. We remember lives lost. We remember the heroic deeds. We remember the compassion, the decency of our fellow citizens on that terrible day.

"Also, today's a day of prayer," he continued. "We pray for the husbands and wives and moms and dads and sons and daughters and loved ones of those who still grieve and hurt. We pray for strength and wisdom."

Bush observed a moment of silence on the White House south lawn at 8:46 a.m., the moment the first hijacked jet hit the World Trade Center two years ago.

Later in the day, the president planned to visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was to meet with troops who were wounded in the war in Iraq.

Cheney Uninvited to Ground Zero

The theme of looking to the future was reinforced by the sight of Ground Zero, changed from the barren pit it was on the first anniversary, to a construction site, with work already nearing completion on a commuter train station to replace the one destroyed two years ago.

The new station for the PATH train to connect lower Manhattan with New Jersey, is visible below ground level on the eastern edge of the pit and on the platforms are signs reading "World Trade Center Station." Commuters standing on the platform waiting for their trains will be able to see the work in the pit through a translucent wall.

Vice President Dick Cheney was originally scheduled to attend the ceremony at Ground Zero, but after concerns about security were raised, there was a change in plans.

Bloomberg said it was feared that the high level of security the vice president's visit would require could make it more difficult for family members to get to the site for the memorial.

"I have asked Vice President Cheney to attend a memorial service later in the day honoring fallen Port Authority officers and employees, instead of the morning's commemoration at the World Trade Center site," Bloomberg said. "The vice president has graciously agreed and we look forward to his presence in our city as we honor those who were taken from us so tragically two years ago."

Cheney's office cited concerns about the vice president attending an event at which there could be as many as 20,000 people.

The Port Authority ceremony, which is expected to be attended by New York Gov. George Pataki and his New Jersey counterpart, James McGreevey, is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET at Manhattan's Riverside Church.

Visitors From Oklahoma City

A group of survivors and family members of the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing also came to New York, hoping that they could offer some help to the people who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

"If we can give comfort, understanding, knowledge that — no, you're really not crazy when you feel... like crying every day, when you can't remember what's happening next — You see that they're really grasping, that there is a tomorrow. That's just a payback that's unbelievable." said Calvin Moser, one of the 12 members of the Oklahoma City Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism Outreach Committee who planned to come to New York.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took part in a wreath-laying ceremony that began at 9:30 a.m. ET at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate those who were killed when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

Later in the morning, Rumsfeld is expected to be joined by Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Richard Myers and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, as well as Pentagon chaplains and employees in a flag presentation and stained-glass window dedication ceremony at the Pentagon Chapel.

A ceremony was also scheduled to be held in the field near Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed after passengers fought with the hijackers.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton was expected to attend the ceremony there, and then swear in commissioners for the Flight 93 National Memorial Federal Advisory Commission, which will make recommendations for a permanent memorial.

The sites where the hijacked planes crashed were not the only places where ceremonies, commemorations or prayer services were planned, though.

At cities and towns across the country, smaller ceremonies will be held — and some communities are choosing to mark the anniversary by asking people to contribute their time, energy or even their blood to a good cause.

In Lexington, Ky., businesses are being encouraged to offer their employees a day off for them to perform volunteer work at city services.

A food and clothing drive is being held in two Connecticut towns, Madison and Branford. They call the event, which runs through Sept. 17, a Day of Caring.

Panama City, Fla., officials have scheduled a blood drive to replenish supplies that have suffered since the boom in donations just after the terrorist attacks