For a second straight year Thursday, the nation paused on a bright September morning to recall the day when hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing more than 3,000 people in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
In New York, it was the voices of children that sadly punctuated the second anniversary of the deadliest day in modern American history, reports CBS News Anchor Dan Rather.
Two by two, 200 children stepped forward at Ground Zero Thursday, the sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandsons and granddaughters of the Sept. 11 victims, mournfully reciting the 2,792 names of the World Trade Center dead.
"My mother and my hero," 13-year-old Brian Terzian said after reading the name of his mother, Stephanie McKenna. "We love you."
The relatives at ground zero appeared in various sad permutations: Police Sgt. Michael Curtin was represented by his three daughters, Jennifer, 17, Erica, 15, and Heather, 13. Kristen Canillas, 12, stood alongside 8-year-old Christopher Cardinali; both had lost a grandparent.
"I love you and I miss you," Kristen said after reciting the name of her grandfather, Anthony Luparello.
The children — the youngest was 7 — offered poignant messages to their lost loved ones, their emotions laid bare before a crowd that held aloft pictures of the victims, dabbed tears from their eyes, and laid flowers in temporary reflecting pools representing the towers.
Brannon Burke, 13, and her 10-year-old sister Kyleen wore matching blue Engine Co. 21 sweatshirts with buttons bearing the face of fire Capt. William Burke Jr. — their beloved Uncle Billy, a second-generation firefighter.
"It's heartbreaking and it's heartwarming when you hear them say, 'My father, my mother, my aunt,'" said Betsy Parks of Bayonne, N.J., whose brother Robert was killed. "What's amazing is the strength and resilience."
The footprint of the trade center's north tower was outlined by a 4-foot fence draped with banners bearing drawings and messages painted by children of the victims.
"I remember riding on daddy's shoulders," read the message from 4-year-old Maggie Murphy, written between a picture of flowers and the two towers.
Family members of victims walked down a ramp into the pit of the site. Some knelt to touch the trade center's bedrock; others hugged or wept.
Some family members used their hands to scoop up dirt from the site as a keepsake, slipping it into bags and empty water bottles. For many, it may provide the only link to their lost relatives; authorities estimate the remains of as many as 1,000 victims may never be identified.
The crowd of thousands observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane slammed into the north tower. Three more pauses were also held, at the time the second plane hit the South Tower, and at the moments when each building collapsed.
At sunset, two light beams pointing skyward were to be switched on, evoking the image of the twin towers.
The remembrance extended far beyond lower Manhattan. Firefighters in Chicago joined in the moment of silence, while bells tolled in Milwaukee.
For a second straight year, family and friends of the 658 Cantor Fitzgerald employees killed in the trade center attack gathered in Central Park for a memorial service. The group met beneath a white tent festooned with an American flag.
Some families of the 700 New Jersey victims in the trade center attended ceremonies in their home state, including the unveiling of black marble monuments for the 37 residents of Middletown, N.J., killed by the terrorists.
"It's not easy today," said Rose Marie D'Amato, whose sister was working on the 94th floor of the north tower. "I felt like I wanted to be here, and I wanted to be in New York. We never recovered any body remains."
Flags Half-Staff In Washington
On Capitol Hill, the House passed legislation to set up a memorial there honoring the victims of terrorist attacks at home and abroad. The House also voted to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to emergency responders killed in the attacks.
President Bush and his wife, Laura, on a visit to nearby Walter Reed Army Medical Center, met privately with about 30 soldiers being treated for wounds suffered in Iraq. Mr. Bush pinned the Purple Heart on 11 of them and signed autographs for the soldiers and their families. He said he was grateful for the chance to "hug their parents and thank them."
The low-key observance was in contrast with last year's anniversary, when the president visited all three crash sites and engaged in tearful embraces with relatives of the victims. Aides said the new approach was in keeping with the president's view that the day now should focus on the families.
Flags flew at half-staff on government buildings throughout the capital and across the nation in accordance with a presidential proclamation declaring Sept. 11 as Patriot Day.
After an early-morning service at St. John's Church near the White House, Mr. Bush and his wife walked hand and hand across the South Lawn, along with Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne, to join more than 1,000 White House employees — cooks and carpenters, groundskeepers and maids, senior officials and junior staffers and members of the military.
"Today our nation remembers — we remember a sad and terrible day, September the 11th, 2001," Mr. Bush said outside St. John's. "We remember lives lost. We remember the heroic deeds. We remember the compassion and the decency of our fellow citizens on that terrible day."
They bowed their heads in silence at 8:46 a.m. EDT, the moment the horror began to unfurl as the first plane plowed into the trade center tower.
Amid the melody of "Taps," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld presided over a ceremony at the Pentagon and attended a wreath-laying at nearby Arlington National Cemetery. Solicitor General Ted Olson, whose wife, Barbara, died in the attack, told Justice Department employees that an unrelenting fight against terrorism is the best way to honor the memory of those who died.
"Their suffering and deaths must fuel our dedication to stamp out this cancer," Olson said.
Members of Congress gathered outside the Capitol to sing "God Bless America."
"It has been two years, and our hearts still ache," said Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
"We must renew our commitment to the one good thing coming out of Sept. 11, America coming together as one," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
Bells Toll In Pennsylvania
In rural Pennsylvania, church bells began tolling solemnly shortly after 10 a.m. to mark the moment Flight 93 crashed.
A bell rang for each victim in the crash that apparently occurred after some passengers tried to take back the plane, CBS' Rather reports. The plane was believed to be headed to the nation's capital; it went down as the passengers fought back against the hijackers.
"I feel incredibly proud for what my nephew did and those brave souls and what a difference they made," said Candyce Hoglan, whose nephew Mark Bingham was among the passengers. "They prevented those monsters from continuing on with their plan."
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