- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

NEW YORK Two columns of light rose over the site of the World Trade Center last night, shining one mile up in a glowing tribute to those who perished six months ago.

Twelve-year-old Valerie Webb threw the switch at 6:55 p.m., and seconds later two shafts of light evoked the memory of the worst day in the city's history.

Valerie's father, a Port Authority police officer, was one of the almost 3,000 people who died September 11 when terrorists hijacked two airplanes and flew them into the twin towers.

As the lights slowly gained power, soprano Jessye Norman sang "America the Beautiful" and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the Tribute in Light "reminds us there is still much in this world to be hopeful about and that the human spirit will always prevail."

Arthur Leahy was holding a picture of his brother James, a New York policeman who died September 11.

"The lights will reach up to the skies and into heaven, near where the heroes are now," Mr. Leahy said.

It was a day remembered for its horror and the heroism of countless New Yorkers.

The Tribute in Light, which emanates from a vacant lot just north of the site, is a temporary memorial that will be seen from dusk until 11 p.m. every day until April 13. Daily weather conditions will affect the lighting schedule, especially if low clouds diffuse the beams and pose a danger to pilots.

Each column is powered by 44 7,000-watt bulbs and they are expected to be visible for a radius of 20 miles. Private donors are underwriting the estimated $500,000 cost.

"The idea of light in our culture and in our history" is that "light equals spirit, equals love, and most especially equals regeneration," said Paul Marantz, one of the several artists and lighting designers responsible for the idea.

Earlier in the day, officials and families of the dead huddled in the cold to remember the events of September 11. They observed two moments of silence the first at 8:46 a.m. when American Airlines Flight 11 rammed into the north tower, and another at 9:03 a.m. when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the south tower.

The mourners gathered in Battery Park just south of "ground zero" at the tip of Manhattan to dedicate as a temporary memorial a pierced and dented bronze sphere that was pulled from the rubble on that fateful day. Before the attack, the sphere, a symbol of world peace made by Fritz Koenig, sat upon a fountain in the five-acre plaza of the World Trade Center.

Many bowed their heads during the silence marking the moments of impact. Some cried. Others gave out daffodils. "My heart is breaking," said a sobbing woman whose son-in-law, a fireman, was killed in the attack.

At ground zero, workers stood at attention, an American flag rippling in the stiff winter wind. Later in the day when work resumed, they uncovered another body in the steel and concrete that fell six months ago.

"If you could just sit and think, 'What would those people have wanted us to do?'" Mr. Bloomberg said, alluding to the hundreds of firemen, policemen and emergency workers who died in the towers. "I think they would have wanted us to make a better world, to show the terrorists that they cannot defeat us."

Gov. George E. Pataki compared the sphere to New York itself, damaged but not destroyed. He lauded the courage of the rescuers "those heroes who died," who saved "tens of thousands of people and united us in an awareness of how good could overcome evil."

The longest applause went to former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who guided the city in the aftermath of the attack and became Time magazine's man of the year. He told the crowd that on September 11, he wondered "Could we endure?"

Then, he said, he realized that because of the heroism of the rescuers, "we had won the war against terrorism on that first day. We're now winning the battles, but we had already won the war."

Meanwhile, at police station houses throughout the city officers saluted and read out the 23 names of New York Police Department officers who died in the attack. "For us, it just feels like yesterday," said Deputy Inspector Kevin Fitzgerald of the 6th Precinct in Greenwich Village.

At the end of the service, Mr. Bloomberg, his voice quavering, said, "God bless America." A fireman struck a ceremonial fire bell 20 times, the traditional coded signal of a fallen brother. The mayor said: "Thank you. Never forget."


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