A Nation Pauses to Reflect on Attacks of 2001 Mourners around the country commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, with moments of silence, pauses in routine -- and with large events at New York City's Ground Zero; in Shanksville Pa., where Flight 93 crashed; and at the Pentagon. In New York, loved ones read aloud the names of 2,749 victims to a crowd that began assembling before dawn.
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A Nation Pauses to Reflect on Attacks of 2001

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A Nation Pauses to Reflect on Attacks of 2001

A Nation Pauses to Reflect on Attacks of 2001

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Michele Norris.

Five years after the September 11 attacks, the country took time today to remember - to remember the horror of the attacks, the questions that they raised and most of all, the people that were killed that day. There were large events at Ground Zero in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed.

NPR's Margot Adler reports.

MARGOT ADLER: In New York the air was crystal clear and the sky as blue as it had been five years ago on the day of the September 11 attacks. At Ground Zero, where families, police, firefighters and politicians gathered, it was a quiet and reflective commemoration with bagpipes, classical musical and Taps.

As family members streamed into the area near the podium, many greeted old friends. For some, the other families who'd lost loved ones were now their community. One group of some 80 relatives and friends came from Massachusetts to honor a young couple that had died. All wore gray T-shirts with Together Forever, United Airlines Flight 175.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city had asked spouses, partners and significant others to lead the program.

Mr. MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (Mayor, New York City): Not in the first flush of despair, but with the saving grace of memory. At this time, please join us and all New Yorkers in a moment of silence.

(Soundbite of bell tolling)

ADLER: And then Bloomberg said -

Mayor BLOOMBERG: It surely cannot be easy to come to this site and speak out loud the name of the person that you had always thought would be next to you, the one with whom you had hoped to face the world. To stand by your side.

ADLER: The first reader was Susan Sliwak, whose husband Robert was one of nearly 600 Cantor Fitzgerald employees killed that day, and she quoted an Irving Berlin song.

Ms. SUSAN SLIWAK (Widow, 9/11 Victim Robert Sliwak): How far would I travel to be where you are? How far is the journey from here to a star? And if I ever lost you, how much would I cry? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky?

ADLER: President Bush spent much of yesterday in New York City. The president and his wife, Laura Bush, had laid wreaths at Ground Zero. They also attended a service at nearby St. Paul's Chapel.

Today the president met with firefighters and stood with them for moments of silence at a fire house on the Lower Eastside. The president and his wife then went to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where he stood in a cold rain without an umbrella, joining with relatives and friends of those who lost their lives when Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field.

This morning Vice President Dick Cheney joined Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and family members to observe a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m., the exact time when American Flight 77 hit the Pentagon and killed 184 people.

Later, the vice president said 9/11 is a day of national unity and he told those at the Pentagon -

Vice President DICK CHENEY: In these five years we have needed you as much as we ever have and since that day there's a lot we've learned. We have learned that oceans do not protect us and threats that gather thousands of miles away can now find us here at home. We have learned that there is a certain kind of enemy whose ambitions have no limits and whose cruelty is only fed by the grief of others.

ADLER: Back at Ground Zero, Buddhists were sitting outside the perimeter chanting for peace and some demonstrators were demanding an investigation of 9/11. But inside the perimeter, the names continued. Paul Schertzer was there with his wife and daughter to commemorate his son, who was on the 104th floor of the north tower. He said five years had not changed anything.

Mr. PAUL SCHERTZER (Father, 9/11 Victim Scott Schertzer): You don't feel any better. You really don't. You don't learn to live with it. You just live with the next day.

ADLER: Have you been coming every year?

Mr. SCHERTZER: This is the place I have to be. I live here on this day. Yes.

ADLER: The last reader was Dorota Zois, who read the name of her husband.

Ms. DOROTA ZOIS (Widow, Prokopios Zois): Prokopios Paul Zois. We miss you. Be an angel to my children. May our grandchildren and the generations after us are born into a world to where they won't have to stand here ever.

ADLER: Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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