* Amid commemorations, high security is evident
* Obama visits New York, Shanksville, Pentagon
* Names of dead read at Ground Zero in emotional event
(Adds scrambled jets, threats on White House Facebook page)
By Mark Egan, Basil Katz and Steve Holland
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Children yearned for lost
parents and grown men and women sobbed in raw grief on the hard
stone bearing the names of nearly 3,000 dead as America
commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The name of every person killed in al Qaeda's hijacked
plane attacks was read on Sunday in the nearly five-hour-long
centerpiece of a heart-wrenching ceremony where the World Trade
Center twin towers stood.
"I haven't stopped missing my Dad. He was awesome," said
Peter Negron, a child when his father, Pete, was killed in one
of the towers. "I wish my Dad had been there to teach me how to
drive, ask a girl out on a date and see me graduate from high
school and a hundred other things I can't even begin to name."
There were smaller ceremonies in Shanksville, Pennsylvania,
and at the Pentagon, the other sites were 19 men from the
Islamic militant group al Qaeda crashed hijacked airliners on
the sunny Tuesday morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
The attacks led U.S. forces to invade Afghanistan to topple
the Taliban rulers who had harbored al Qaeda leader Osama bin
Laden and Washington began a "war on terror" that ousted Iraq's
Saddam Hussein and persists on several fronts to this day.
"Ten years have passed since a perfect blue sky morning
turned into the blackest of nights," New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg said at New York's Ground Zero.
"Since then, we've lived in sunshine and in shadow, and
although we can never unsee what happened here, we can also see
that children who lost their parents have grown into young
adults, grandchildren have been born and good works and public
service have taken root to honor those we loved and lost."
Thousands gathered at the site on a clear morning to
grieve. With security tight and no traffic, there was an eerie
silence where the 110-story skyscrapers collapsed a decade ago,
sending a noxious cloud over lower Manhattan.
President Barack Obama, who visited all three attack
sites, read from Psalm 46 in New York: "God is our refuge and
The ceremony -- with the wail of bagpipes, youthful voices
singing the national anthem and firefighters holding aloft a
tattered American flag retrieved from Ground Zero -- drew
tears. Family members wore T-shirts with the faces of the dead,
carried photos, flowers and flags in an outpouring of emotion.
For the first time, relatives saw the just-finished
memorial and touched the stone where the names of their dead
loved ones were etched. Some left flowers, others small teddy
bears. Some used pencils to rub the names on paper, some took
pictures, others leaned against the stone and cried.
The names of the dead were read by wives and husbands,
fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and children, some choked
"May your soul finally rest in peace. Your son Nathan and
I, as the years go by, grow strong. Goodbye, my dear friend, my
teacher and my hero," said Candy Glazer.
Glazer's husband, Edmund Glazer, cheerfully called his wife
from Flight 11 not long before he died when the plane hit the
north tower -- the first of that day's horrific events.
Nicholas Gorki, 9, had these words for the father he never
met, Sebastian Gorki, who died at the World Trade Center while
his wife was still pregnant: "You gave me the gift of life and
I wish you could be here to enjoy it with me."
The Sept. 11 attacks claimed the lives of people from more
than 90 countries. They were followed by al Qaeda bombing
assaults in London, Madrid and elsewhere and brought an
international campaign to ferret out their members.
"God bless every soul that we lost," said former New York
City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was called "America's mayor"
for his leadership after the attacks.
"SO MANY NAMES ..."
The New York memorial includes two plazas in the shape of
the footprints of the twin towers with cascading 30 foot
waterfalls. Around the perimeters of pools in the
center of each plaza are the names of the victims of the 2001
attacks and an earlier attack at the trade center in 1993.
Obama visited the North Memorial Pool in the footprint of
the north tower. He walked around it hand-in-hand with first
lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and his
wife, Laura. Obama touched the etched names of the dead before
he greeted some family members.
"So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the
heart," said former New York Governor George Pataki, reading
from the Billy Collins poem "The Names."
Police in New York and Washington were on high alert
against what authorities called a "credible but unconfirmed"
threat of an al Qaeda plot to attack the United States again on
the 10th anniversary.
The U.S. military said it scrambled two F-16s to accompany
an aircraft flying from Los Angeles to JFK airport in New York
after reports of suspicious activity, and the U.S. Secret
Service said it was looking into threatening messages posted on
the White House's Facebook page.
At Shanksville, Obama laid a wreath where a plane crashed
after passengers overwhelmed hijackers intent on piloting it
into the White House or U.S. Capitol. Chants of "USA, USA"
broke out from the crowd, gathered at the foot of a grassy
hill. The Obamas talked with family members. "Thank you for
keeping us safe," one man called out to the president.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said the passengers on
Flight 93 -- remembered forever in Todd Beamer's "Let's roll"
rallying cry -- "set a new standard for American bravery."
Later at the Pentagon, Obama placed a wreath of white
flowers at the memorial, which says "September 11, 2001 9:37
AM" to mark the time the plane struck the U.S. military's
POPE URGES "REJECT VIOLENCE"
In the Adriatic city of Ancona, Italy, Pope Benedict prayed
for Sept. 11 victims and appealed to those with grievances to
"always reject violence."
In May, nearly a decade after Sept. 11, U.S. forces killed
al Qaeda founder bin Laden at his hide-out in Pakistan. The
2001 attacks prompted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the
Pentagon still has a large number of troops and where violence
"The 9/11 attacks were the beginning of a long winter in
world history," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
said in Brussels. "But events in the Middle East have renewed
our faith that although the desire for freedom can be
repressed, it can never be extinguished. The Arab spring is a
new season of hope for us all."
There were moments of silence in the Ground Zero ceremony
marking when the planes hit the twin towers as well as when
they collapsed. Other moments of silence were marked when the
plane hit the Pentagon and the fourth crashed in Shanksville.
After a faltering start at rebuilding, the new One World
Trade Center is now more than 80 stories above the ground as it
rises to its planned 1,776-foot height -- symbolic
of the year of America's independence from Britain.
For many -- particularly the more than 1,100 families who
received no remains of their dead -- Sunday was the closest
they came to a funeral for their loved ones. With the memorial
complete, it offered for the first time something resembling a
final resting place and a formal place to mourn.
"When we came out here 10 years ago there was a hole in the
earth and that's how we felt," said Dakota Hale, 25, of Denver,
who lost his stepfather, flight attendant Alfred Marchand.
"Now, 10 years later there is grass and water and it feels
kind of like a new beginning."
(Additional reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst in New York, Phil
Stewart and Jeff Mason in Washington and David Brunnstrom and
Charlie Dunmore in Brussels. Writing by Mark Egan; editing by
Doina Chiacu and Philip Barbara)
© 2023 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.