The ceremony at the World Trade Center site marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks will be a solemn but stately event that will include President Barack Obama and a chance for victims' families to view the names of loved ones etched into the new memorial, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
President Barack Obama and Bloomberg will be joined by the leaders in charge during the 2001 attacks, including former President George W. Bush, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former New York Gov. George Pataki. Current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will also be there, he said.
Speaking on his weekly radio show Friday on WOR-AM, Bloomberg said the lawmakers will read short poems or quotes. No speeches will be given.
"This cannot be political," he said. "So that's why there's a poem or a quote or something that each of the readers will read. No speeches whatsoever. That's not an appropriate thing."
The mayor also revealed a few more details for the ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 11. It will be held on the highway to the west of the site, and only relatives will be allowed inside the memorial to look for the names of their loved ones, etched into the railings at two huge waterfalls built in the footprint of the World Trade Center. The falls descend from street level down into a void.
The names of the nearly 3,000 victims including those who died at the Pentagon and aboard United Flight 93 that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania will be read aloud for the first time.
The public will be allowed into the space, still a major construction site, the day after the ceremony but only with tickets. Bloomberg said limiting the number of people is a safety precaution as the work continues on 1 World Trade Center, the PATH commuter rail station and museum.
He said there have been a couple of hundred thousand reservations already, and a few days are already booked solid. He estimated that a million people annually will visit the site.
The museum is still under construction and is scheduled to open next year. Artifacts from the terrorist attacks are slowly being accumulated for the space, including a steel T-beam shaped like a cross that was discovered by a construction worker in the smoldering rubble. A national atheist group sued over the inclusion of the cross in the museum. It says all beliefs should be included, or none.
Bloomberg said on his radio show that the group had a right to sue, but the cross had a right to be there.
"This clearly influenced people," he said. "It gave them strength. In a museum you want to show things that impacted people's behavior back then, even if you don't think it was right. It's history. Museums are for history."
Bloomberg said other religious relics would be in the museum a Star of David cut from World Trade Center steel, a Bible found during the recovery effort and a Jewish prayer shawl.