9/11 - 12 Years Later - KMSP-TV

9/11 - 12 Years Later

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From Ed Laskos:

On this 12th anniversary of the worst terror attack in U.S. history, the sound of bells and the sound of the names of those who died and the tears from all of those left behind.

From a moment of silence at the White House at the exact  moment the first plane hit the first tower; to bagpipes playing and relatives reading the names of the thousands who died at ground zero in New York City, to the President laying a wreath at the point of impact where one of the hijacked planes hit the Pentagon, and the memorial service in a Pennsylvania farm field where passengers overpowered the hijackers and crashed the plane.  Americans all took time to remember.

Dozens of memorial services through the Southland to mark this very special day. The U.S.S. Iowa in San Pedro paid tribute to the 411 first responders who died a dozen years ago. And, in Sherman Oaks, a helicopter flyover at Fire Station 88. It is home base to the first Urban and Search Rescue Team sent to lower Manhatten. A 750 pound steel beam, which once was part of the twin towers, is now part of that Fire Station and it's 9/11 Memorial for the ages.

(FOX 11 / AP) As bells tolled solemnly, Americans marked the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Wednesday with the reading of the names, moments of silence and serene music that have become tradition.

At a morning ceremony on the 2-year-old memorial plaza at the site of the World Trade Center, relatives recited 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.

In Washington, President Barak Obama, joined by first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden and members of the White House staff, walked out to the South Lawn at 8:46 a.m. - the moment the first plane struck the south tower in New York. At the site in lower Manhattan, friends and families silently held up photos of the deceased. Others wept.

"Daddy, I miss you so much, and I think about you every day," Christina Aceto said of her father, Richard Anthony Aceto. "You were more than just my daddy, you were my best friend."

Bells tolled to mark the second plane hitting the second tower, and the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon. Near the memorial plaza, police barricades were blocking access to the site, even as life around the World Trade Center looked like any other morning, with workers rushing to their jobs and construction cranes looming over the area.

"As time passes and our family grows, our children remind us of you," Angilic Casalduc said of her mother, Vivian Casalduc. "We miss you."

Name-reading, wreath-laying and other tributes also will be held 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 watched for his last time in office. And saying nothing.

"No matter how many years pass, this time comes around each year - and it's always the same," said Karen Hinson of Seaford, N.Y., who lost her 34-year-old brother, Michael Wittenstein, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee.

"My brother was never found, so this is where he is for us," she said as she arrived for the ceremony with her family early Wednesday.

Loved ones milled around the memorial site, making rubbings of names, putting flowers by the names of victims and weeping, arm-in-arm. Former Gov. George Pataki, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and others were in attendance. 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.

"Joe, we honor you today and all those lost on Sept. 11," said Kathleen O'Shea, whose nephew Joseph Gullickson was a firefighter in Brooklyn. "Everyone sends their love and asks that you continue to watch over us all, especially your wife."

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 said.

Hinson said she would like the annual ceremony to be "more low-key, more private" as the years go by.

The 12th 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, where a smaller crowd was gathering Wednesday - only friends and family of the victims were allowed.

Bruni Sandolval carried a large photo of childhood friend Nereida DeJesus, a victim.

"We grew up together on the Lower East Side and I come every year with her family," she said. "Coming here is peaceful in a way."

Denise Matuza, who lost her husband on Sept. 11, said people ask her why she still comes to the service with her three sons.

"It doesn't make us feel good to stay home," she said. Her husband called after the towers were struck. "He said a plane hit the building, they were finding their way out, he'd be home in a little while. I just waited and waited," she said.

"A few days later I found an email he had sent that they couldn't get out."


Back here at home:

For the 11th consecutive year, Long Beach firefighter Gary Biggerstaff today will lead hundreds of motorcyclists from Trabuco Canyon to Long Beach to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terror strikes.

Biggerstaff used to organize a ceremony at his house, but the annual event got too big, he said. And while he'd like more people to honor the memory of those killed in the attacks, he sees a silver lining in the tapering off of enthusiasm.

"It helps it to be smaller and more manageable,'' Biggerstaff said. Unlike the 10th anniversary of 9/11 -- which was held just four months after the killing of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks -- last year's event drew hundreds fewer motorcyclists, Biggerstaff said.

"Last year, we had 275 riders and it was toned down quite a bit -- the 10-year anniversary was huge,'' Biggerstaff said. "Last year, we kept it on the down low and that's where it is now.''

The 2011 ride featured more than 1,000 motorcyclists, with a small fraction running red lights and causing aggravation for police, Biggerstaff said.

"I wish police and fire agencies would treat it with the same reverence as in the early years when all the emergency vehicles made a point of being part of it,'' Biggerstaff said, adding he understands why some law enforcement backed off because of the "1 percent'' of scofflaws.

The motorcyclists will leave Cook's Corner in Trabuco Canyon in the afternoon and take Santiago Canyon to the 241 tollway to where it merges into Laguna Canyon Road, then head south on Pacific Coast Highway to Joe's Crab Shack in Long Beach.

Other events in Orange County planned to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the attacks include:

  • Santiago Elementary School students will hold a 9/11 memorial at 8:25 a.m. featuring a speech by Santa Ana Unified School Police Department Sgt. Kevin Phillips, a veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
  • Anaheim firefighters will participate in a 9/11 Remembrance Service at the flag poles in front of Anaheim City Hall. The event will begin at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first plane struck the World Trade Center Towers.
  • Starting at 9 a.m., at various schools throughout the county, volunteers and Camp Pendleton Marines will refurbish and refresh gardens for fall planting by students to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank.
  • At the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, the 12th anniversary of the attacks will be commemorated with a speech by Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Vincent Coglianese, commanding general at Camp Pendleton.
  • Bruce Herschensohn, an author who was a deputy presidential assistant in the Nixon administration, will also make remarks at the Nixon Library, and the Orange County Fire Authority will salute the first responders and victims.
  • At noon, Irvine Valley College will hold its 12th anniversary 9/11 commemoration ceremony. Orange County Assistant Sheriff Mark Billings will be among those speaking at the event.
  • At 1 p.m., volunteers in Mission Viejo will help landscape and plant a garden at a wounded warrior's home in collaboration with Operation Homefront. At 5:30 p.m., the city will hold a 9/11 event at city hall.
  • Saddleback Valley Chorale will perform at 6 p.m. in a patriotic concert to commemorate the anniversary in Laguna Niguel.
  • Also at 6 p.m., the Newport Mesa Irvine Interfaith Council of religious leaders will commemorate 9/11 with prayers, musical entertainment and a special ceremony at a Mormon church at 3 Lake Road in Irvine.
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