- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Washington-area residents remembered the more than 3,000 persons who died in the September 11 attacks in somber and subdued ceremonies, much like those elsewhere around the world.

In the District, Mayor Anthony A. Williams began the day at Leckie Elementary School in Southwest, where the community dedicated a garden to a student, a teacher and two parents who died on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

Mr. Williams said understanding the garden’s life cycle should help surviving family members and friends cope with the loss of student Bernard Brown.

“Every time we see the rhododendron bloom we will remember the smile of Bernard,” he said.

The mayor also attended two other events — the International Children’s Art Festival on the Mall and a ceremony called “Remember, Unite, Rebuild” at a Northeast fire station.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority also observed the anniversary.

Subway drivers asked passengers to take a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York. Metro buses also kept on their lights and flew the flag. Metro officials reminded riders to look for and report anything suspicious to authorities.

More police were on duty yesterday in the District, but police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said that was part of an initiative to put more officers on city streets, not because of the September 11 anniversary.

Chief Ramsey also said he is in constant contact with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and that neither agency had received information about a terrorist threat.

He said on WTOP radio that the police department has developed a “much stronger” relationship with federal officials and that the city has a good response plan to any emergency.

In Maryland, the daily reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance at a popular hangout for state government officials in Annapolis was especially poignant yesterday.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. led the pledge for the breakfast crowd at Chick and Ruth’s Delly.

Mr. Ehrlich, a congressman in 2001, said he was at the White House when the first plane struck the World Trade Center and returned to the U.S. Capitol building to a scene of confusion that he hopes to never see again.

He said the attacks were just another chapter in a terrorist war against the United States that began more than 20 years ago.

Former Gov. Marvin Mandel and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens also were present for the brief ceremony.

The governor declared yesterday a “Day of Reflection and Unity” in Maryland and directed that the state flag be flown at half-staff.

“I ask the people of Maryland to join me in remembering the thousands of lives lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” said Mr. Ehrlich. “A day of reflection and unity is a fitting way to honor their sacrifice and to recognize the bravery of the police, fire and rescue units in Maryland that responded to the horrific terrorist attacks that morning.”

The Republican governor attended four events yesterday including one at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore and other in Texas, Md., to talk with members of a rescue team who responded to the disaster scenes.

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner talked to high school students in suburban Richmond about the attacks.

Mr. Warner told government studies students at J.R. Tucker High School they will always recall where they were the day of the attacks, just as he will always remember events from his childhood.

The Democratic governor recalled how he and fellow students were sent home from second grade when President Kennedy was assassinated. Still, he said the September 11 attacks are seared into his memory like no other single event.

Mr. Warner told about 80 students the second anniversary of the attacks is “a day for prayer and a day to remember the heroes.”

He also told them that regardless of how they feel about the war in Iraq, don’t forget that U.S. troops are “putting themselves in harm’s way day after day.”

In Arlington County, where one of the three hijacked planes hit the Pentagon, police and public safety officers also helped in a commemorative ceremony.

They rang a bell 184 times, once for each victim of the Pentagon attack.

The bell tolls began at 9:37 a.m. — the exact time that American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon. About 500 people attended the ceremony at the courthouse, just a few miles away.

Like many East Coast residents, Mary Spink and others who attended the event said they were struck by the similarities between yesterday’s weather and the clear, sunny day exactly two years ago.

Other memorials in the metro area included a candlelight vigil Wednesday night by the Council on American-Islamic Relations at the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

Organizer Nihad Awad said the vigil showed the Islamic community’s commitment to stand behind all that unites Americans.

Members of Christian and Jewish communities were the guests of honor at a banquet scheduled for last night by the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.

The 3,000-member congregation planned to discuss the challenges Muslims continue to face two years after the attacks.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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