Anniversary of attacks includes memorials for victims

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

NEW YORK — Presidential politics and the health of ground zero workers loomed over the former World Trade Center site this Sept. 11 perhaps more than at any other anniversary since the attacks.

The firefighters and first responders who helped rescue thousands on Sept. 11 and later recovered the dead were to read the victims’ names for the first time. Many of those rescuers are now ill with respiratory problems and cancers themselves that they blame on exposure to the fallen towers’ toxic dust.

Also for the first time, the name of a victim who survived that dreadful day but died five months later of lung disease was added to the official roll.

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Felicia Dunn-Jones, an attorney who was working a block from the World Trade Center, became the 2,974th victim linked to attack sites. The four hijacked airliners hit the twin towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pa., where federal investigators say the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 fought the hijackers on the rallying cry ‘‘Let’s roll!’’

A memorial honoring Flight 93’s 40 passengers and crew was to begin shortly before 9:55 a.m., the time the airliner nosedived into the empty field.

‘‘The ceremony will be brief but solemn,’’ said Kevin Newlin, an official with the National Park Service. Bells will toll, and the names of the passengers and crew will be read at the site of a temporary memorial at the crash site.

In New York, firefighters will share the stage with former mayor Rudy Giuliani, who many victims’ families and firefighters said should not speak because he is running for president.

Giuliani has made his performance in the months after the 2001 terrorist attacks the cornerstone of his campaign, but said last week that his appearance wasn’t intended to be political.

‘‘I was there when it happened and I’ve been there every year since then. If I didn’t, it would be extremely unusual. As a personal matter, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself,’’ Giuliani said Friday.

Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeking her own party’s presidential nomination, also planned to attend ceremonies at ground zero.

President Bush was to spend the day in Washington, attending a private 7:30 a.m. prayer service at St. John’s Episcopal Church and holding a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House.

National intelligence director Mike McConnell said Tuesday that U.S. authorities remain vigilant and concerned about ‘‘sleeper cells’’ of would-be terrorists inside the United States.

‘‘We’re safer but we’re not safe,’’ he said in an interview on ABC’s ‘‘Good Morning America.’’

At the main U.S. base at Afghanistan, a memorial ceremony was set to be held to coincide with the time the first hijacked airplane hit the World Trade Center, at 8:46 a.m. by New York time.

As in past years, moments of silence were planned to mark each crash and the collapse of each tower in New York. The sixth anniversary again falls on Tuesday, but unlike the clear blue sky that morning in 2001, New York was rainy and gray for the anniversary.

The ceremony was moved off the trade center site this year because of construction work in the pit where four towers will eventually replace the World Trade Center. The victims will be remembered in a nearby park just southeast of the site, and thousands of family members planned to descend briefly below street level to lay flowers at a spot near the twin towers’ footprints.

After threats by family members to boycott the ceremony, the city relented and agreed to let them briefly into the pit to lay flowers on the dusty bedrock.

Several family members worried that Zuccotti Park would be too small to accommodate the thousands of people. In addition to the firefighters and first responders, city workers who participated in the cleanup, construction workers, volunteers, and medical examiner’s officials who recovered remains were to read the names during the ceremony.

City officials said there would actually be more space available than at the previous location, and that fewer people have attending the ceremony each year.

Some New Jersey communities that lost many people in the attacks said their ceremonies were being scaled back. Local television station WABC-TV initially decided not to air the four-hour-plus ceremony live but reversed itself when viewers complained.

In all, 2,974 victims were killed by the Sept. 11 attacks: 2,750 at the World Trade Center, 40 in Pennsylvania and 184 at the Pentagon. Those numbers do not include the 19 hijackers.