WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will observe the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with a moment of silence and a visit to the Pentagon Memorial.
Obama on Wednesday will join first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden and members of the White House staff in a moment of silence on the White House South Lawn.
The president will then attend a Sept. 11 observance at the Pentagon.
In the afternoon, Obama will take part in a service project to commemorate the National Day of Service and Remembrance.
PITTSBURGH — The Flight 93 National Memorial plans to honor victims of the Sept. 11 attacks with a bell-ringing ceremony at the time when United Flight 93 crashed in a western Pennsylvania field, killing 40 passengers and crew.
The National Park Service says that at 10:03 a.m. Wednesday the names of all 33 passengers and seven crew members who died in the crash will be read, and bells will be rung in their memory during a 40-minute ceremony.
From noon to 5 p.m., park rangers and volunteers will give presentations about Flight 93 and the creation of the memorial park, which is located in Shanksville, about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. At 4 p.m. rangers will present a program titled Flight 93’s Final Minutes: The Flight Data Recorder Story.
A groundbreaking for a 6,800-square-foot visitor center was held Tuesday. The building will be broken in two at the point of the plane’s flight path overhead. It is expected to open in late 2015.
The first features of the memorial in Shanksville were completed and dedicated in Sept. 2011, including new roads and a Memorial Plaza near the crash site. Forty memorial groves of trees have also been planted, and large sections of the park have been replanted or reforested.
Flight 93 was traveling from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2001, when it was hijacked with the likely goal of crashing it into the White House or Capitol.
As passenger Todd Beamer issued the rallying cry “Let’s roll,” he and several fellow passengers rushed down the airliner’s narrow aisle to try to overwhelm the hijackers after learning of the coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The 9/11 Commission concluded that the hijackers downed the plane — the only one of four hijacked that day that did not take a life on the ground — as the hostages revolted.
The tale of the courageous actions of everyday people aboard Flight 93 helped provide a measure of optimism for the American public in the dark days and weeks that followed the terrorist attacks. It also inspired a 2006 docudrama, “United 93,” the first big-screen dramatization about the terrorist attacks that used a cast of unknown actors and played out roughly in real time from the passenger check-in to the crash.
Visitors to the park have left more than 35,000 tributes at the site, and they have been collected as part of an archival collection.
NEW YORK — Sept. 11 victims’ loved ones will gather at ground zero to commemorate the attacks’ anniversary with the reading of names, moments of silence and serene music that have become tradition.
At Wednesday’s ceremony on the 2-year-old memorial plaza, relatives will recite the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died when hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa., as well as the 1993 trade center bombing victims’ names. Beforehand, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, musician Billy Joel, firefighters and others are expected to join in a tribute motorcycle ride from a Manhattan firehouse to ground zero.
Name-reading, wreath-laying and other tributes also will be underway at the Pentagon and at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville while the commemoration unfolds at ground zero, where the mayor who has helped orchestrate the observances from their start will be watching for his last time in office. And saying nothing.
Continuing a decision made last year, no politicians will speak, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Over his years as mayor and chairman of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum, Bloomberg has sometimes tangled with victims’ relatives, religious leaders and other elected officials over an event steeped in symbolism and emotion. But his administration has largely succeeded at its goal of keeping the commemoration centered on the attacks’ victims and their families and relatively free of political image-making.
Memorial organizers expect to take primary responsibility for the ceremony next year and say they plan to continue concentrating the event on victims’ loved ones, even as the forthcoming museum creates a new, broader framework for remembering 9/11.
“As things evolve in the future, the focus on the remembrance is going to stay sacrosanct,” memorial President Joe Daniels says.
Wednesday’s anniversary also arrives with changes coming at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, where officials gathered Tuesday to herald the start of construction on a visitor center. At the Pentagon, plans call for a morning ceremony for victims’ relatives and survivors of the attacks and an afternoon observance for Pentagon workers.
Around the world, thousands of volunteers have pledged to do good deeds, honoring an anniversary that was designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance in 2009.
When Bloomberg and then-Gov. George Pataki announced the plans for the first anniversary in 2002, the mayor said the “intent is to have a day of observances that are simple and powerful.”
His role hasn’t always been comfortable. When the ceremony was shifted to nearby Zuccotti Park in 2007 because of rebuilding at the trade center site, some victims’ relatives threatened to boycott the occasion. The lead-up to the 10th anniversary brought pressure to invite more political figures and to include clergy in the ceremony.
By next year’s anniversary, Bloomberg will be out of office, and the museum is expected to be open beneath the memorial plaza.
While the memorial honors those killed, the museum is intended to present a broader picture of 9/11, including the experiences of survivors and first responders.
But the organizers expect they “will always keep the focus on the families on the anniversary,” Daniels said.
That focus was clear as relatives gathered last September on the tree-laden plaza, with a smaller crowd than in some prior years.
After the throng and fervor that attended the 10th anniversary, “there was something very, very different about it,” says Charles Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, was killed in the trade center’s north tower. “It felt almost cemetery-ish, but not really. It felt natural.”