- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Three years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, during a presidential campaign dominated by the topic of terrorism, Washingtonians will hold solemn and understated remembrances while they try to focus on the future.

“The sentiment here in Arlington is that … we should mark the occasion with a solemn ceremony, but that it doesn’t require any of the large productions or larger scale events that we’ve seen in past years,” said Matt Martin, spokesman for Arlington County police.

“There’s a sense that it was a momentous occasion, and within the public safety community, especially here in Arlington, it was one of the most momentous events we’ll ever face. But it’s time to move forward. That doesn’t mean we forget about it, but it’s time to focus on challenges that lay ahead of us,” he said.

President Bush, who traveled to ground zero in New York City on the first anniversary of the attacks, is not scheduled to leave Washington. He will attend early morning services Saturday at St. John’s Episcopal Church, and will observe a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House at 8:46 a.m., the exact moment at which American Airlines Flight 11, the first of four hijacked planes, hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, meanwhile, will preside over a short, straightforward ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, at the September 11 memorial in Section 64. A moment of silence will be observed at 9:37 a.m., the time when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. The cemetery is open to the public, and while the space for the ceremony is small, no one will be turned away, a spokesman for the Military District of Washington said.

The District has no events planned for Saturday, but D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams will today recognize National Preparedness Month, which spokeswoman Sharon Gang said would never have been created if not for September 11.

Across the region, county governments will hold ceremonies centered around their own memorials and in memory of their own residents lost in the attacks.

Today, the Frederick County Commission will proclaim September 11 as Patriot Day with a declaration stating, “Terrorism was not allowed to break the spirit of the American people.”

At a memorial service later, Frederick County will recognize the local family members of two men who died at the World Trade Center: investment banker Alan Linton and New York firefighter Robert Carlo.

Arlington County will hold a brief ceremony Saturday morning hosted by county board Chairman Barbara Favola, at Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Blvd. The program will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will include the tolling of a bell 184 times, once for each victim at the Pentagon.

In Fairfax, the county will hold its first candlelight ceremony at the government center’s Memorial Grove Garden. County spokeswoman Amy Carlini said Fairfax wants to make sure the memory of the attacks does not fade.

“Rather than easing up, we want to keep the memory of the victims alive and never forget our first responders and their bravery and courage,” she said.

Montgomery County government will hold a ceremony at the Courthouse Square Park, which was dedicated last year to the 11 county residents killed at the Pentagon. Families of those victims will attend the 8:30 a.m. ceremony.

“This year is very low-key,” said county spokeswoman Sue Tucker. “It’s been three years. You just can’t keep it at the same level year after year.”

Larger, more public events centered on September 11 include Saturday night’s D.C. United soccer game at RFK Stadium, and a Silver Spring jazz festival Saturday afternoon and evening.

Area Muslims will also remember September 11, “grieving over the attacks but … angry at the hijacking of their own religions,” said Rabiah Ahmed, spokeswoman for the Council on American Islamic Relations.

“Your hearts are with the victims and families of the victims,” she said. “But it’s also a time for Muslims to condemn terrorism, because three years later we still have people who say we have not.”

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