Sept. 11 Attack Remembered in New York City

The Wall Street Journal - September 11, 2016

by Corinne Ramey, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Sonja Sharp

Hundreds gathered in lower Manhattan Sunday morning to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and to honor the thousands of people who lost their lives.

The ceremony began at 8:40 a.m. at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum with the national anthem and a reading of names of those killed in both the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center. Attended by the families of those killed in those attacks, elected officials, first responders and others, the event includes six moments of silence, timed to commemorate significant moments on Sept. 11, 2001.

Readers of the 2,983 names include family members of those who were killed in both attacks, according to the museum. Elected officials present included New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and former mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani. Presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who was a U.S. senator from New York state at the time of 2001 attacks, attended the event as well.

Before the ceremony began, hundreds gathered around the plaza, many holding posters and shirts dedicated to victims. As the Brooklyn Youth Chorus sang the national anthem, many in the crowd held up posters and framed pictures before loudly applauding. Emily Ortiz, 15 years old, said her relatives had always told her stories about her father, Emilio Pete Ortiz, who died in the north tower, where he worked. She said she attends the ceremony every year.

“It’s another way to get a little bit closer,” said Emily, who is from Queens.

The ceremony comes on the heels of recent changes for the area surrounding the former World Trade Center site. In March, the World Trade Center transit hub, with its soaring Oculus centerpiece, opened to the public. Last month, Westfield World Trade Center, a $1.4 billion shopping complex, officially opened, although some stores haven’t yet been completed.

On Thursday, officials announced new plans for the performing-arts center planned for the World Trade Center site, including news that Barbra Streisand would be its new chairwoman. Planned for the corner of Fulton and Greenwich Streets, north of the memorial, renderings for the building show a stone cube with a translucent facade.

Sunday’s Sept. 11 ceremony includes six moments of silence, each timed for events during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At 8:46 a.m., a police officer rang a bell to mark the first moment of silence, for when the first plane struck the North Tower. At 9:03 a.m., a moment of silence observed the time the second plane struck the South Tower. A third moment of silence commemorated when Flight 77 struck the Pentagon, and a fourth when the South Tower fell. The fifth marked when Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pa. At 10:28 a.m., a final moment of silence was observed for the fall of the North Tower.

Some families attending the event said they were comforted by being around others who had experienced the tragedy firsthand. Kamila Milewska-Podejma, 37, came to honor her brother, Lukasz Tomasz Milewski, who had worked for a food-service company.

Sometimes when she comes to the site, people are laughing and taking selfies, said Ms. Milewska-Podejma, who was wearing a memorial T-shirt. “That’s why when it’s only family members and first responders it’s different, because they get it,” added Ms. Milewska-Podejma, who had come with her father and daughter. “They feel the same way I’m feeling.”

Other events are planned throughout the city on Sunday. In an annual tradition, firefighters are expected to march across the Brooklyn Bridge, carrying 24 flags representing firefighters from Brooklyn’s Battalion 57 who died on Sept. 11.

The procession will end at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights neighborhood, where a noon mass will honor the victims of the attacks, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn.

For years, the memorial has included “Tribute in Light,” an art installation that creates two vertical beams of blue light in lower Manhattan. The lights were first seen on March 11, 2002, according to the Municipal Art Society, which originally presented the installation. On Sunday evening, the lights were scheduled to begin at sunset and continue until dawn on Monday, according the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which now produces the event.