The thousands killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks will be honored where they died and across the nation on the second anniversary of the attacks today, with cities falling silent, names read aloud, wreaths laid and bells tolling for the dead.
The ceremonies began yesterday, when the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group in the D.C. area, held its second “Day of National Unity,” an interfaith memorial event at the Capitol Reflecting Pool to mark the anniversary of the attacks.
The event included songs by a children’s choir, speeches from local and national community and religious leaders, and a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims.
“It was even better than last year,” said Joshua Brockwell, CAIR executive assistant and event organizer. “We had good media coverage. The people who showed up made the event what it was. The speakers and the content of what they had to say was pretty important.”
The organization’s first “Voice of Unity Award” was presented to the Hate Free Zone Campaign of Washington, an organization founded to combat post-September 11 hostilities against American Muslims, Arab-Americans and those perceived to be Middle Eastern.
“The theme was definitely positivity,” Mr. Brockwell said. “We had representatives from the National Council of Churches, Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel, Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force, and the fact that they were all out en masse made for a very positive event, and that is what we were going for.”
Today at the Pentagon, officials and families will mark with silence the moment when a hijacked jet slammed into the Defense Department headquarters. The 9:37 a.m. crash killed 125 persons on the ground and 59 on the plane.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is scheduled to attend a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery at 9:30 a.m., followed by a flag presentation at the Pentagon.
Ceremonies also will take place at the World Trade Center site in New York City, where two planes crashed into the Twin Towers, and in the field near Shanksville, Pa., where a fourth hijacked airliner went down.
In all, 3,021 persons died.
D.C. Public Schools plans several events to remember the three teachers and three students killed aboard the hijacked plane that hit the Pentagon. There will be a ceremony outside school headquarters in Northeast, as well as the dedication of a memorial garden and a playground at Leckie Elementary School in Southwest.
At Backus Middle School in Northeast, there will be a service to remember the student and teacher lost there.
Elsewhere, the Rev. David O’Connell, president of the Catholic University, is scheduled to preside over a noon Memorial Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast.
The University of the District of Columbia plans a noontime service to remember Johnnie Doctor Jr., a student who worked at the Pentagon.
And some community groups plan to work on beautifying Engine Co. 30 in Northeast as a way of honoring the firefighters killed at the Trade Center.
A ceremony in Rockville’s Courthouse Square Park begins 11 a.m. at a memorial to honor the 11 county residents killed in the attacks. There are 11 benches, each containing lines from a song, poem or thought, as selected by a family member. The end of each bench has the signature of the victim inscribed in stainless steel.
Afterward, the Navy Band’s chorus will perform on the patio of the Montgomery County Executive Office Building in Rockville.
Prince George’s County will hold a “ceremony of remembrance” 9 a.m. on the courthouse side of the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.
When the plane hit the Pentagon, it was Arlington County firefighters and police who were the first responders. Tomorrow, the county will remember that fateful day.
At 9:30 a.m. in Courthouse Plaza, there will be a brief ceremony in which a bell will toll 184 times — once for each victim at the Pentagon.
Elsewhere in Northern Virginia, there will be a 3 p.m. groundbreaking ceremony at the Prince William County offices in Woodbridge for the “9/11 Liberty Memorial.” Twenty-two county residents were killed in the attacks on the Pentagon and the Trade Center.
Fairfax City plans a 7:30 p.m. memorial service in the Veterans Amphitheater next to City Hall.