Saturday, September 12, 2015

Never forget!

President Barrack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama today observed a moment of silence on the south lawn of the White House at 8:46am - the moment the first World Trade Centre tower was hit on September 11, 2001. 

Solemn silence swept the nation this morning as President Obama and first lady Michelle walked out on to the lawn of the White House and bowed their heads in honor of the nearly 3,000 Americans who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In New York City, hundreds of survivors, first responders and victims' family members gathered at the the World Trade Centre memorial for an annual ceremony to read the names of those who perished at Ground Zero. Bells tolled as the city observed a moment of silence at 8:46am - the moment the first plane struck the north tower on that sunny September day 14 years ago.

After years of private commemorations at ground zero, the anniversary now also has become an occasion for public reflection on the site of the terror attacks.

An estimated 20,000 people flocked to the memorial plaza on the evening of September 11 last year, the first year the public was able to visit on the anniversary. The plaza was to open three hours earlier after the anniversary ceremony.

'When we did open it up, it was just like life coming in,' National September 11 Memorial and Museum President Joe Daniels said this week. While the memorial will still be reserved for victims' relatives and other invitees during the morning ceremony, afterward, 'the general public that wants to come and pay their respects on this most sacred ground should be let in as soon as possible.' Elsewhere, Ohio's statehouse will display nearly 3,000 flags - representing the lives lost - in an arrangement designed to represent the World Trade Center towers, with a Pentagon-shaped space and an open strip representing the field near Shanksville. Sacramento, California, will commemorate 9/11 in conjunction with a parade honoring three Sacramento-area friends who tackled a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound high-speed train last month.

The memorial and underground museum together cost $60 million a year to run. The federal government contributed heavily to building the institution; leaders have tried unsuccessfully for years to get Washington to chip in for annual costs, as well.

Under the current proposal, any federal money would go only toward the memorial plaza. An estimated 21 million people have visited it for free since its 2011 opening.

The museum charges up to $24 per ticket, a price that initially sparked some controversy. Still, almost 3.6 million visitors have come since the museum's May 2014 opening, topping projections by about 5 percent.

This year's anniversary also comes as advocates for 9/11 responders and survivors are pushing Congress to extend two federal programmes that promised billions of dollars in compensation and medical care. Both programmes are set to expire next year. But some of those close to the events aim to keep policy and politics at arm's length on Sept. 11.

Organisers of the ground zero ceremony decided in 2012 to stop letting elected officials read names, though politicians still can attend. Over the years, some victims' relatives have invoked political matters while reading names - such as declaring that Sept. 11 should be a national holiday - but others have sought to keep the focus personal. –End-

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