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The nation reflects

Solemn rites mark anniversary of attacks

By Raja Mishra, Globe Staff, 9/12/2002

Sylvio Amorino, just off a flight yesterday morning, simply stood there in front of Gate 26, Terminal B, Logan Airport. It was 7:55 a.m. The 70-year-old realized that, one year ago, American Airlines Flight 11 had idled here.

The world, he recalled, had been a far different place on that distant morning. There was no ground zero, no war on terrorism. The sun shone on New York, Wall Street buzzed with morning activity, firefighters changed shifts, plane passengers buckled into their seats. September 11 was just another day.

Amorino closed his eyes. He prayed in the silence of the terminal. He walked on.

September 11, 2002, passed quietly and reflectively, a national requiem that found citizens and leaders alike grasping for words to describe the hellish events of a year ago. Many simply recited the names of the dead. Or said nothing at all.

In windswept New York, the 2,801 names of the dead, read out loud, echoed through the empty expanse where two soaring skyscrapers once stood. At the Pentagon, Washington-area schoolchildren, mourning their murdered classmates, led weeping soldiers in the Pledge of Allegiance. Outside Shanksville, Pa., 40 doves were released to fly into the blustery sky.

But the grieving and reflection and anger and puzzlement spread far beyond the attack sites. In Boston, Senator Edward M. Kennedy tearfully paused midspeech, telling grieving mothers and fathers that he could relate to their sudden, violent losses. In New Hampshire, trees were planted in seven communities where the state's 10 victims once lived. At E.D. Nixon Elementary School in Montgomery, Ala., sixth-graders delivered homemade cookies to local firefighters. The scoreboard at Chicago's Wrigley Field read: ''We Shall Not Forget.''

America's cluttered cultural landscape softened for the day, with advertising mostly replaced by tribute, entertainment by eulogy. Choirs in 20 time zones around the world, including one in Jamaica Plain, intoned Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem - it begins '' Requiem aeternam dona eis '' or ''Rest eternal grant to them'' - at 8:46 a.m., the time the attacks commenced one year ago.

But throughout the somber day, the scream of low-flying fighter jets disrupted the tranquillity of memorial sevices. Heavily armed government agents lurked behind podiums and stages.

The nation was on high alert for terrorist attacks, but the day ended peacefully. Jitters, however, abounded: US air marshals grounded a commerical flight leaving Houston for Dallas after mistaking a passenger's comb for a pocket knife.

President Bush anchored the day's events, beginning at sunrise with a private White House prayer, then addressing soldiers in front of the mended Pentagon, then consoling families at the grass-covered crash site near Shanksville. In the afternoon, he laid a wreath at the sprawling dirt clearing that is ground zero in Lower Manhattan.

Though the day was thick with public events, it was focused on private thoughts. Where were you? How have we changed? The questions echoed throughout America, answered a million ways.

Although the date rekindled the memories, it was the times - when the planes hit, when the towers crumbled - that drew Americans back into the horrible specifics. The memorials began in earnest at 8:46 a.m., when, one year earlier, American Airlines Flight 11 from Logan Airport plowed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Seventeen minutes later, United Air Lines Flight 175 would erupt into the south tower.

Ground zero, once a vast swath of contorted girders and smoldering rubble, yesterday resembled simply a large, ordered construction site covered in gravel. A single crane remained from the massive cleanup effort.

Yesterday, victims' families were allowed for the first time en masse on the site. Firefighters gathered there, standing neatly in rows.

At 8:46 a.m., the New York City Fire Department bagpipe brigade stopped playing their now-familiar dirges. Heads bowed. The wind alone howled.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg then spoke: ''They were our neighbors, our husbands, our children, our sisters, our brothers, and our wives. They were our countrymen and our friends. They were us.''

New York Governor George Pataki borrowed Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg Address: ''... that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ...''

And then there were the names, read out one by one. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani began with ''Gordon M. Aamoth Jr.'' Two-and-a-half hours later, another speaker completed the reading with ''Igor Zukelman,'' the 2,801st name.

But at 9:03 a.m., when the the second jetliner hit, the reading halted. Bells tolled. Another pause at 9:59 a.m., when the south tower crumbled. Bells tolled again.

The emotions of victims' families swirled, a mix of sadness, disbelief, and anger. ''It's hard to believe a year has passed. A lot of people were getting better; progress was being made, but now we are back at square one,'' said Debra Jeffers, 39, whose 38-year-old brother-in-law, William Raub, perished that day.

Terri Frakes, whose brother Robert J. Fangman was a flight attendant on United Air Lines Flight 175, directed her anger at politicians she sees as using the anniversary for self-promotion.

''There is so much political posturing going on, but that is not what this is for,'' she said.

Most gazed silently at the gravel expanse.

''This is the resting place for all of these people,'' said James DeFazio, whose son Jason, 29, died during the attacks. ''They [victims] share the same tragedy and the same fear,'' he said.

Frakes, her anger subsiding, said yesteday's memorial service did little to end the pain.

''There is just this big hole in your heart, and it will never go away,'' she said.'' I keep asking myself, `Will it ever get better?'''

Wind gusted through Manhattan.

Cammie Lau, 17, working across the street at the Century 21 discount mart said, ''There's a Chinese saying that when wind is blowing, there's always spirits around.''

At roughly the same time, approximately 225 miles south at the Pentagon, Bush stood before an estimated 12,000 people - soldiers, victims' families, construction workers, and Washington politicians. Behind him the rapidly rebuilt Pentagon once again looked like the Pentagon, solid and imposing. The once-devastated wing of the US military's headquarters is fully operational. One year ago, American Airlines Flight 77 struck at 9:43 a.m.

''Within minutes, brave men and women were rescuing their comrades,'' said Bush. ''Within hours in this building, the planning began for a military response. Within weeks, commands went forth from this place that would clear terrorist camps and caves and liberate a nation. And within one year, this great building has been made whole once again.''

An American flag was unfurled from the top of the building. It undulated in the wind. The crowd rose, clapping, clenching fists, weeping.

At 10:10 a.m., about 160 miles to the northwest, amid the green rolling hills outside Shanksville, a bell tolled 40 times, each for a fallen passenger on United Flight 93. Then silence. Then three military jets streamed by in tribute.

The site has become a contemplative place for the several dozens of visitors that arrive every day. Most of the time, it is quiet. The sky, round and wide, gapes above.

''It helps me a lot to know it's such a beautiful place,'' said Alice Hoglan, 52, of Los Gatos, Calif., who lost her son, Mark Bingham, in the crash.

The US military took extraordinary security measures at 12 cities, including New York and Washington. Jet fighters flew around-the-clock missions above the cities. More fighter planes sat at a dozen more airstrips, ready for flight. Military convoys carrying Stinger missiles were stationed at several of the cities. Small armies of security agents followed dignitaries. Armed air marshals flew on virtually every flight.

Federal Homeland Security officials turned away a ship headed for Newark after radioactive material was detected on board. The exact nature of its cargo was unclear last night. Otherwise, the day, though tense, unfolded without incident.

In Massachusetts, which lost 93 residents on Sept. 11, people took to the parks and meeting halls to honor the fallen. Nearly 10,000 jammed Harvard Yard to hear clergy members reflect aloud. Memorial Church's bells rang. Daffodil bulbs were distributed. And then the freshmen returned to orientation and registration, the faculty and staff to their offices. But some lingered. ''Last year, when we gathered here, we were in shock,'' Harvard chaplain Rev. Mark D.W. Edington said. ''It was a beautiful day, eerie and still. This year is different, but there was a need to gather in hope rather than shock.''

In downtown Boston, a spontaneous moment of silence. Hundreds gathered on Beacon Street, in front of the State House, fell silent suddenly at 8:46 a.m. without any prompting from officals.

''I expected a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m.,'' said Ann Giambertonel, 30. ''I guess we just took it upon ourselves.''

Then, Acting Governor Jane Swift, flanked by US Senator John F. Kerry and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, ordered the American flag lowered until it fluttered at half-staff. The offical moment of silence began. Rows of State Police officers bowed their heads, until rifle shots rang out. A lone bugler played taps from a State House balcony.

At a ceremony in Augusta, Maine, Rachel Hoar stood near the front of a crowd of a few hundred people. She clutched an American flag - her crocheted creation. ''Creating something is a great way to mend when something hits so hard,'' said Hoar, who said she began her project July 4.

Most American workplaces did not close. But it was clearly not business as usual. Pleasanton, Calif.-based medical device company Thoratec held a moment of silence for its former chief operating officer, Tom Burnett, who died on United Flight 93. Flowers piled by a flagpole there, just feet from the recently renamed Tom Burnett Lane.

Bush arrived at ground zero at around 5 p.m. He carried with him New York Port Authority badge No. 1012, which once belonged to officer George Howard, who rushed to the scene on his day off and died in the towers collapse. Howard's mother handed Bush the badge during the president's first visit to ground zero, days after the attacks.

Bush lingered for nearly two hours, shaking hands, hugging, staring into the trade center dirt. Later in the evening, he delivered a short nationally televised address. ''For those who lost loved ones, it has been a year of sorrow, of empty places, of newborn children who will never know their fathers here on earth,'' he said.

As the sun set over New York's Central Park, thousands bearing candles filled the expanse of the Great Lawn. Thousands of candles illuminated thousands of faces, some crying but far more laughing and smiling. A sense of calm prevailed as an orchestra struck up ''America the Beautiful.''

''I wavered back and forth whether to come to this. I decided about 15 minutes ago. I didn't know how much I wanted to cry today,'' said advertising executive Ricki Ravitts. ''But I packed a candle on my way to work this morning.''

Brooklyn native Bob Whelen, 41, now living in Winston-Salem, N.C., surveyed the crowd. He'd spent the morning amid the grim faces at the ground zero memorial cermony. He heard the names, seemingly endless, ringing through the air. But this evening, in this city, in this park, he saw something else in the eyes of people: relief.

''It's good to see people whose minds are on something else,'' he said.

They were, he said, moving on.

Anne Barnard, Ellen Barry, Mac Daniel, Anne E. Kornblut, and Tatsha Robertson of the Globe Staff contributed to this story. Correspondents Benjamin Gedan, Scott W. Helman, Angelica Medaglia, and Peter DeMarco also contributed. Material from the Associated Press was used.

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 9/12/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.





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