Five Years On: 2,973 Lives Remembered

Peter Burnham holds a sign in Pittston Township, Pa., that reads "Honk for the Heros of 9/11," Sept. 10, 2006. (AP Photo/The Citizens Voice, Ralph Francello) ** MANDATORY CREDIT AP/Citizens Voice/R. Francello

It's been five years. Five long years, some would say; others feel just the opposite – as if Muhammad Atta and his crew passed through security only yesterday on their way to the Sept. 11 terror attacks which brought untold sorrow and a new frame of mind to the United States of America, its allies and its enemies.

President Bush, who calls the anniversary "a day of renewing resolve," is vowing to never "forget the lessons of that day." He says there is "still an enemy out there who would like to inflict the same kind of damage again."

As Americans and others around the world began ceremonies of remembrance of the 2,973 who were killed – two previously unseen terror videos surfaced. The first, found on the Internet Sunday, is said to show Osama bin Laden and his followers possibly planning the attacks. The second video, which turned up a few hours later, calls on Muslims to step us their resistance against the U.S.

"The days are pregnant and giving birth to new events, with Allah's permission and guidance," warns Ayman al-Zawahri, the man believed to be al Qaeda's number two leader, in the second video, broadcast on CNN.

"You gave us every legitimacy and every opportunity to continue fighting you,'' says al-Zawahri, in a message aimed at the U.S. "You should worry about your presence in the (Persian) Gulf and the second place you should worry about is Israel.''

Whatever the intent of the al Qaeda video might be, events in the Persian Gulf marched ahead on schedule Monday, as the second trial of Saddam Hussein resumed, after a 19-day hiatus in proceedings which could end in a death sentence for the deposed Iraqi president. There was also another bombing, once again targeting job seekers in post-Hussein Baghdad.

In Kabul, the leader Afghanistan would not have – except for the U.S. war on the country in search of Osama bin Laden – issued a message to America Monday marking the anniversary. "We understand the tremendous loss you endured that day," said President Hamid Karzai, who also paid tribute to the sacrifices America's "sons and daughters" have made in liberating and rebuilding his nation.

The war there is not really over, especially outside of Kabul. Monday, NATO reported 92 Taliban militants killed in fighting in the south.

In New York, anniversary ceremonies began Sunday at the place where the World Trade Center once stood, with President Bush and first lady Laura Bush laying wreaths, joined by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. George Pataki and former Mayor Rudy Guiliani.

Mr. Bush says he marks the anniversary with a "heavy heart," adding that seeing "the relatives of those who still grieve... I wish there was some way we could make them whole."

Also Sunday, the Bushes attended a memorial service at St. Paul's Chapel just off ground zero, where George Washington once prayed and where exhausted rescuers sought refuge in 2001 while they dug through the trade center rubble.

At the service, a youth choir sang "America the Beautiful" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee," and religious leaders of several faiths offered words of comfort.

At a ceremony Sunday at 7 World Trade Center, the first office tower to rise at Ground Zero, Gov. Pataki honored first responders and said American freedom represents "the ultimate threat" to terrorists.

Leaders at a 38-nation Asia-Europe summit stood in silence Monday, in memory of the Sept. 11 victims, who included citizens of dozens of nations. The heads of state at the Helsinki summit - including those from the European Union, China, Japan and South Korea – also pledged to stay the course in fighting terrorism.

In New York Monday, bells will ring and four moments of silence will be observed: 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m. – the time the two planes hit each of the twin towers – and 9:59 a.m. and 10:29 a.m., when the World Trade Center, in an horrifying roar, disintegrated into a fiery pile of dust and rubble from which few bodies would be recovered, despite months of searching.

  • Christine Lagorio

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