Saturday, September 11, 2010



New York, Nation to Commemorate 9/11 Anniversary With Ceremonies, Protests
By Henry Goldman - Sep 11, 2010 12:01 AM ET

Vice President Joe Biden will join New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and hundreds who lost family and friends to remember the 2,752 people who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.

The ninth-anniversary ceremony, held in Zuccotti Park adjacent to the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, will begin shortly before 8:46 a.m. today, the moment when a jetliner hijacked by members of the Muslim terrorist group al-Qaeda smashed into the complex’s north tower. A second airplane hit the south tower 17 minutes later.

To highlight progress in rebuilding at the 16-acre site, architects, designers, engineers, construction workers and developers will participate in the ceremony. They are to join victims’ relatives and friends to read the names of the dead.

This year’s remembrance falls a day after Muslims celebrated Ramadan’s end with the feast of Eid al-Fitr and as Jews observe their most solemn holidays: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. And it coincides with a rancorous debate ignited by a proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque within two blocks of the site.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the center’s spiritual leader, said it is meant to foster better relations between Islam and other faiths. The center’s opponents, including former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, have said its establishment near the site of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history would be inappropriate.

Remembrance, Then Anger

Supporters and opponents plan to demonstrate this afternoon, moments after the names of the dead stop resounding.

“The whole idea of putting a megamosque at a war memorial is insulting,” Pam Geller, a protest organizer, said in an interview. “They say they want outreach, but what they’re doing hurts people.”

Adele Welty, 74, whose son, Timothy Welty, died in the attack at age 34, intended to avoid the Ground Zero ceremony. She preferred to visit the Maspeth, Queens, firehouse where her son was a firefighter.

“It’s totally inappropriate to be demonstrating on 9/11, which should be a day of respect for the dead and for each other,” she said in an Aug. 23 interview. “The more we aggravate the situation instead of trying to resolve it in a civil manner, the more we disrespect the dead.”

A Marist Poll yesterday reported that 54 percent of New Yorkers view the planned center as “offensive,” and 56 percent say they’re “concerned about a new terrorist attack.”

‘Raw Feelings’

“The raw feelings over the mosque are one example of how, nine years later, attitudes about the events of 9/11 defy consensus and remain unresolved in the public’s mind,” Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute of Public Opinion of Poughkeepsie, New York, said in an interview.

Nor were most New Yorkers polled happy with efforts to build anew. Seven in 10 said “little or no progress has been made in rebuilding the site.”

Four office towers, a transit center designed by Santiago Calatrava, a memorial and a museum may be complete by 2014, city and state officials said during a Sept. 7 news conference.

The project’s signature $3.2 billion, 1,776-foot building, 1 World Trade Center, has reached the 36th floor, and will be done by 2013, said Christopher Ward, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site. Last month, Conde Nast, which publishes magazines including Vogue and Vanity Fair, announced its intention to lease 1 million square feet in the tower.

The project experienced delays that spanned the administrations of three New York governors and at least four in New Jersey. They had to resolve disputes among themselves, developer Larry Silverstein, Mayor Bloomberg and officials of the Port Authority.

A Heavy Toll

Those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, included more than 400 rescue workers. Among them were 343 firefighters and 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority. Their names are emblazoned on plaques in firehouses, at police headquarters, and in memorials throughout the city and neighboring counties.

Today, President Barack Obama plans to attend a memorial service at the Pentagon, where hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed, taking the lives of all 59 on board and another 125 inside the building.

In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed as civilians tried to wrest control from hijackers, First lady Michelle Obama will join former first lady Laura Bush for a memorial ceremony for the 33 passengers and seven crew members who died.

The mayor, who is chairman of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s board of directors, is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at


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