Biden to Honor New York 9/11 Victims as Obama Hosts Memorial


9-11-firemen-flagVice President Joe Biden will lead past and present area governors and mayors of New York City as well as relatives and friends honoring 2,752 people who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

New York’s eighth anniversary observance will pay tribute to the volunteer spirit of hundreds of emergency responders and individuals who helped rescue thousands from the towers and then aided in the recovery of the dead from the burning ruins. More than 400 relief workers died, including 343 firefighters and 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The names of every known attack victim will be called out by 115 pairs of readers. They will be made up of one surviving family member and someone who has given time to help others as youth mentors, community workers and through other acts, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

“There’s still an understanding that a terrible tragedy took place eight years ago and unless you really lost a loved one, you can’t feel the pain that they feel,” Bloomberg said at a Manhattan news conference. “What we can all feel and we shouldn’t forget is this was a wake-up call for this country.”

In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed as civilians tried to wrest control from hijackers, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will join former Secretary of State Colin Powell at a ceremony for the 33 passengers and seven crew members who died. Terrorists who diverted the plane, headed to San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey, probably sought to crash into the White House or Capitol, according to the report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.

Obama at Pentagon

President Barack Obama and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will host a private memorial service at the Pentagon for families of the 184 government workers and plane passengers who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the headquarters of the Defense Department at 9:37 a.m.

The sound of bagpipers and drummers will echo through lower Manhattan as the ceremony begins in Zuccotti Park, a block from Ground Zero. Moments of silence will be observed at 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m., marking when the planes crashed into each tower, and at 9:59 and 10:29 a.m., when each tower fell.

The mayor will be joined by Biden, who will read the names of some victims; New York Governor David Paterson, and predecessor George Pataki; New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Rudolph Giuliani, the city’s mayor on the day of the attack.

Construction Behind Schedule

Across the street from today’s ceremony, construction to redevelop the site of the towers remains years behind schedule because of delays, design disputes and litigation involving developer Larry Silverstein, state and local officials and insurance companies. The latest argument between the Port Authority and Silverstein focuses on funding.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum intends to open a tree-landscaped memorial with the names of 2,982 victims of the attacks, including a 1993 bombing, inscribed on walls surrounding two reflecting pools for the 10th anniversary on Sept. 11, 2011, Museum President Joe Daniels said .

The museum itself won’t open until at least 2012, he said.

As many as four skyscrapers, including a 1,776-foot high “Freedom Tower” and a transportation hub based on a modified design by architect Santiago Calatrava, may remain unfinished for years after that, said Christopher Ward, executive director of the Port Authority, which owns the land upon which Silverstein holds a 99-year lease.

I Don’t Go’

“I don’t go there any more,” said Monica Iken, a member of the museum’s board whose husband, Michael, 37, a bond trader with Euro Brokers Inc., died in the attack. She won’t attend today’s ceremony “because I just can’t connect with that space any more,” Iken said yesterday. “When the memorial is built and provides a quiet place, I will return.”

Sally Regenhard, who became a skyscraper safety advocate after her son Christian, 28, a probationary firefighter, died trying to rescue people trapped in one of the towers, said while she would go to the ceremony, she opposes all the building on the site, particularly the museum, most of which will be situated 71 feet below street level.

“It’s dangerous to have too many people assembled down there with one way in and one way out,” she said. “People haven’t learned any lessons from the past.”

Lynn Rasic, a spokeswoman for the memorial and museum, said planners consulted with New York City police and fire safety experts, and with the U.S. Defense Department, Homeland Security and other agencies. The building “meets or exceeds local construction codes” and the underground exhibit area will have 12 “emergency egress corridors,” she said.

{Bloomberg/CNN/Noam Newscenter}