Marking Four Years Since 9/11 While Mourning a Fresher Loss - New York Times
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September 12, 2005Marking Four Years Since 9/11 While Mourning a Fresher Loss
By MICHAEL WILSON
The nation marked the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks yesterday in familiar ways - the readings of long lists of victims, the black bands worn across shined badges, the framed portraits clutched by loved ones - even while struggling with its latest tragedy, the death and devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
The day of grief was remembered against a backdrop of new loss. And it was all but impossible to isolate one event from the other. Speakers, from a ceremony at ground zero to a worship service in Washington, paused to honor the hurricane's victims, while rescue workers slogging through New Orleans observed moments of silence for their fallen colleagues now four years gone.
A few blocks from where hijackers slammed two jetliners into the two towers of the World Trade Center, a rudimentary collection jar - a cardboard box with a slit cut into the top - on the countertop of a deli asked for donations, not for Lower Manhattan, but for the Hurricane Katrina survivors. "Fancy Food will match every dollar you give," it promised.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in his short address at ground zero, referred to the deadly storm, as well as to the July 7 terrorist bombings in London: "Today, as we recite the names of those we lost, our hearts turn as well toward London, our sister city, remembering those she has just lost as well. And to Americans suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, our deepest sympathies go out to you this day."
Gov. George E. Pataki of New York, Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey of New Jersey, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani also made brief remarks at the ceremony, which lasted more than four hours under a bright, sunny sky.
In Washington, not far from where American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon, President Bush and Laura Bush attended a morning service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square, along with Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney.
The Rev. Dr. Luis León, quoting Ernest Hemingway's "Farewell to Arms" in his sermon, spoke of becoming strong again in broken places, namely New York and New Orleans. Later in the day, the president made his third visit to the gulf region since the hurricane.
Near Shanksville, Pa., at the site where the fourth airliner crashed after passengers stormed the hijackers in the cockpit, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said, "They were innocent lives taken by incredible evil," according to Agence France-Presse.
In New Orleans, police officers from New York City paused in post-hurricane streets yesterday morning to read the names of their colleagues who were killed on 9/11.
"We said we'd never forget," Inspector Michael V. Quinn said. "What we showed here today is that we still remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11."
Hard work in New Orleans eased the pain of the day for some. Officer Joseph Stynes, who works in the Bronx Anticrime Unit in New York, said thoughts of the anniversary had not occurred to him until the ceremony began. "I was thinking about things down here, more so, than what happened there."
Elsewhere in New Orleans, about 50 emergency management workers and military officers participated in a brief but emotional ceremony at City Hall, where generators provided a limited power supply and scores of city, military and emergency workers from all over the country spend each night on cots or on the floor.
"We can't imagine the level of devastation that has hit your city," said John Paczkowski, the emergency management director for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who escaped from 1 World Trade Center minutes before the building collapsed.
To be sure, the anniversary ceremonies maintained the same focus of remembrance as in years past. Ground zero became, from before 8 a.m. until after 1 p.m., an island of emotion. Listening to the hypnotic rhythm of first, middle and last names read from lecterns near the pit, it seemed at times impossible that four years had passed, as voice after voice cracked with emotion.
For the first time, siblings of the victims read the names, a new face of pain; parents and children have read in past years. The siblings threaded personal remarks among the names: "I miss talking with you. I miss laughing with you." "Shake it easy, Sal." "We miss you, bro. Be safe." "Help Katrina hurricane victims also."
Many of the family members wore T-shirts, buttons or signs with their relatives' pictures on them. A few American flags were sprinkled throughout the crowd, but most family members just wore the gold-and-white ribbons that city officials gave them at check-in.
The family of Manuel Del Valle Jr., a firefighter, gathered his framed photograph and their F.D.N.Y. shirts that bear his name and made their way first to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, which opens early on Sept. 11 for family members, and then hurried toward ground zero on the subway to get there before 8:46 a.m. A cousin, Marisol Torres, 39, wore a sheen of dust from the cemetery on her black shoes.
"I think it becomes more of a ritual, but your feelings don't go away," she said. "It's still fresh. It's still raw."
Jessica Correa, 21, lost her brother Danny, 25, who was an intern at Marsh & McLennan and was finishing his bachelor's degree at Berkeley College in Paramus, N.J. "He was just getting started," she said. "He could have been the brightest star." Mr. Correa had a daughter named Katrina, who is now 8.
"It was just really, really strange. It comes so close to Sept. 11, and there's a hurricane named after her," said Ms. Correa, Katrina's aunt. "It brought back so much. The posting of the names, people looking for their families, children looking for their parents. Whether it's hatred or whether it's a natural disaster, there's still lives destroyed."
Brother David Schlatter, a Franciscan friar from Wilmington, Del., stood at the corner of Cortlandt and Church Streets and rang a 5,000-pound brass bell mounted on a trailer, once for each victim of the attacks. "Throughout the centuries, humanity has used bells for special moments," he said. "It resonates deeply with the human spirit.
Five cooks from the Millenium Hilton Hotel across the street from ground zero stepped outside in their white uniforms to pay tribute to their 75 lost colleagues from the Windows onthe World restaurant in the World Trade Center. "Including my best friend," said Musleh Ahmed, 46.
It was the first time the anniversary fell on a Sunday. In St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in Belle Harbor, Queens, the second verse of the opening hymn, "Be Not Afraid," seemed to connect Katrina and Sept. 11: "If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown. If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed. If you stand before the pow'r of hell and death is at your side, know that I am with you through it all."
Yesterday afternoon, more than 200 bands played what was collectively called the September Concert in 20 parks in New York City, including Central Park, Union Square and Washington Square, to "celebrate universal humanity and fill the sky with music instead of tears," in the words of Robert Varkony, 43, who helped coordinate one of the events.
Others turned to volunteerism to mark the day, some through an organization called New York Cares. Mort and Merle Price crouched down at Pier 4 in Brooklyn and pulled at the blue stem grass growing up in the two flower beds that had gone to seed. They were married 39 years ago on Sept. 11, 1966.
"It's really hard to have a celebration on a day that's so tragic, so we decided to participate in a project that would commemorate the day," Mrs. Price said.
Memorial services were also held in less predictable places around the world. In Iraq, in the town of Tikrit, insurgents fired mortars at National Guard troops, both a few hours before and a few hours after a ceremony that began at 4:46 p.m. there. At least one soldier appeared to have been injured.
In Keshcarrigan, Ireland, more than 200 people marched behind local firefighters and a bagpipe band to unveil a stone bench and plaque on a lakeshore, dedicated to the Rev. Mychal Judge, the Roman Catholic priest and Fire Department chaplain who was among the first responders to die on 9/11.
Father Judge's father, who died when the chaplain was a young boy, lived at the site before he immigrated to the United States in 1926, so the son felt a particular attachment to the place, family friends said. A cook rose early to start spit-roasting an enormous 130-pound pig in the backyard of Gerty's Pub, to feed the crowd after the formalities.
"He'd love all the fuss," said Liam Coleman, a lieutenant with the New York Fire Department, vacationing in Ireland. "He didn't mind the spotlight at all."
In Kenya, a country hit twice by Qaeda bombers, a memorial service was held in Nairobi. Ben Ole Koissaba complained that the United States has yet to collect the 14 cows that a village donated to the country in 2002. "If they aren't going to accept the gift, they should be checking the animals from time to time, or they should give them back," he said.
Back in New York, bright spotlights symbolizing the two lost towers were turned on last night, as has been the custom each year.
Earlier at ground zero, Chris Burke, the founder of Tuesday's Children, which provides counseling and assistance to children who lost parents in the attack, and who himself lost a brother, Thomas D. Burke, said this anniversary was different for another reason.
"This year, for the first time, there is laughter and smiles through the tears," he said. "The realities have sunk in. This is the time you decide whether you will mire yourself in 9/11 or if you will live and go on with the rest of your life. That's what my brother would have wanted. That's what every brother would have wanted."
He motioned to one of the white tents where the siblings had gathered as they waited to recite the names. "People are telling stories in there," Mr. Burke said. "That hasn't really happened before. This should be an affirmation of life."
Reporting for this article was contributed by Janon Fisher, Colin Moynihan, Jennifer Medina and Angela Macropoulos in New York, Brian Lavery in Ireland, Marc Lacey in Kenya and Christoph Bangert in Iraq.