WTC victims commemorated throughout nation’s capital

September 11, 2002 

Events commemorating victims of the Sept. 11 attacks:

NATIONAL CATHEDRAL

Some two-dozen religious leaders from various faiths told worshippers at the National Cathedral that the world was inspired by the sight of Americans rising back up to help with the cleanup and heal the nation’s psychic wounds.

“It made us proud to be human,” Desmond Tutu, retired Anglican archbishop of South Africa, told worshippers, who included Attorney General John Ashcroft, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Solicitor General Ted Olson, whose wife, Barbara, was killed on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.

“The world stands by you,” Tutu told mourners, “trying to wipe the tears from your eyes.”

Pausing for the tolling of bells marking the attacks’ anniversary, the leaders appealed to a higher power for help in moving the nation and the world toward peace, forgiveness and unity.

“Mark Sept. 11 in the eternal calendar,” the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell prayed. “Let us remember it as the day courage was born. Mold it into a thing of beauty.”

NATIONAL SHRINE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

In the largest Catholic church in the Americas, more than 6,000 worshippers occupied every seat and stood in the aisles as the Most Rev. Wilton Gregory, bishop of the Belleville diocese in southern Illinois and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led them in a memorial Mass.

“We have come to know apprehension and even fear in ways never before imagined,” Gregory said. “We still seek an answer: How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? How could human beings sit at the controls of those jets and purposely destroy the lives of so many innocent men, women and children?”

Also speaking was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, who asked God “to give us peace with justice that we so dearly desire and that we pray for so much.”

Following prayers for peace, for leaders of the country, and for the military, firefighters and police officers, the service ended with the singing of all four stanzas of “America the Beautiful.”

WASHINGTON MONUMENT

Beneath the towering Washington Monument and a bright blue sky, hundreds of pilots, flight attendants and other airline workers — many in uniform — gathered to honor the 33 United Airlines and American Airlines crew members killed last year.

“To our comrades, our friends in the sky, our friends in our hearts, forever our friends,” said Kip Fry, an American flight attendant.

The three-hour event organized by the Fellowship of Christian Airline Personnel included songs, prayer, poems and a tribute to each of the United and American pilots and flight attendants who died.

“The harsh reality of Sept. 11 is that in flight all we really have now is each other,” said Kathy Lord Jones, an American flight attendant. “We cannot and will not allow our aircraft to be used as a weapon of mass destruction again.”

STATE DEPARTMENT

At the State Department, employees gathered in the lobby for a 20-minute memorial service that featured a four-member military honor guard and the singing of the national anthem.

About two dozen photos portraying the events of last Sept. 11 were on display near the department’s main entrance. A video broadcast of the proceedings was transmitted to virtually all U.S. diplomatic posts.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage used the occasion to recall the 209 State Department employees who have died since 1780 in service to the country and whose names are etched in marble on lobby walls.

Armitage urged all members of the State Department family to “take a moment of silence and make it a monument of quiet remembrance not just of the tragedy that happened at this exact moment a year ago but of the countless tragedies that never happened at all because of those memorialized on these walls.”

CIA

At CIA headquarters in McLean, Va., Director George J. Tenet addressed the agency workforce through closed-circuit television.

“Amid the anxiety and turmoil of that Tuesday morning, there could be for us, the men and women of American intelligence, no room for hesitation, and there was none.

“As we watched the scenes of unfolding devastation, our hearts broke at the thought of thousands of families shattered and of millions more afflicted by worry and fear. Despite exceptional efforts, as an agency and a community, we did not stop the hands of hatred that day from acting on their savage plans.”

“Seven of those who perished that day were from our ranks, seven members of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who died at their post of duty in the Pentagon.”

TREASURY

At noon under a brilliant blue sky, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill rang a newly restored reproduction of the Liberty Bell returned to its home outside the department. It began with a moment of silence for two Treasury employees and thousands more who died as a result of last year’s attacks.

Somber Treasury employees — some wearing the colors of the American flag — looked on. A woman removed her glasses and wiped away a tear. The sound of a nearby flag flapping in the wind pierced the silence. O’Neill rang the bell for a second time to conclude the silent observance.

Secret Service officer Craig Miller died in the collapse at the World Trade Center. Dave Bernard, an IRS employee, died in December of injuries following the World Trade Center crashes.

In a message distributed to Treasury employees, O’Neill said the bell ringing not only honored the memory of those lost, but symbolizes “the strength of our democracy and human spirit, which cannot and will not be taken from us by the terrorists.”

On top of the Treasury building — located next to the White House — a flag flew at half staff.

AFL-CIO

Several hundred union members gathered at the ALF-CIO headquarters near the White House to honor the 635 members that were lost last year. A video told the story of firefighters, police officers and emergency rescue workers, many of whom lost their lives that day.

“We have to recommit ourselves to the work shared by so many of those who died,” said John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation.

The International Association of Fire Fighters lost 343 members in the attack.

Association President Harold Schaitberger said Americans have united like never before. The public has a greater appreciation for unions and “let us never forget,” he said.

D.C. SCHOOLS

Instead of spending the day learning about math or science, District of Columbia public school students spent Wednesday honoring three classmates and three teachers who died in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon.

The school system began three days of activities in honor of the victims with a moment of silence at 9:40 a.m., the approximate time American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon. After that, the city’s 197 schools each held their own remembrance program.

“I’m still saddened. I’m still hurt by it,” School Superintendent Paul Vance said.

Students Rodney Dickens, Asia Cottom and Bernard Brown Jr., all age 11, and teachers James Debeuneure, 58, Hilda E. Taylor, 62, and Sarah Clark, 65, were flying to California with two National Geographic staffers for an educational field trip.

Sixty students attended a service at the Pentagon while their classmates at Ketcham and Leckie elementary schools and Backus Middle School remembered the victims in assemblies marked by songs, poems or dance. Grief counselors were at each school.

Besides remembering the victims, teachers are hoping students walk away with life lessons from the tragedy. They are spending the rest of the week studying a curriculum stressing peace and the elimination of hatred, intolerance and racism.

TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT

At a low-key ceremony, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta gave 17 newly created medals to employees who had distinguished themselves in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

There was a moment of silence for victims of the deadly attacks, and the Coast Guard band played patriotic songs.

POSTAL SERVICE

At postal headquarters in Washington Wednesday morning, flags were at half staff. Officials passed out lapel pins of the new “heroes” stamp, which features three New York City firefighters raising the American flag at Ground Zero. Pins with American flags were also distributed.

They had a moment of silence and listened over the intercom to a bell ringing three times to symbolize the three locations of attacks.

The News Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service