Hodge and Israel got into a face-to-face dialogue, which seemed to go beyond the sentiments of the day.
Discussions were refereed by Capt. P.J. Beck of the U.S. Park Police.
“They just want to be here to evangelize what they’re going to do,” he said of Israel’s group. “They want to do what they want to do,” he said of Hodge’s group.
“We’re here to make sure it all happens,” he said.
Scholar Cornel West appeared for the Muslim rally.
“We need to keep the focus on priceless and precious human beings, no matter who they are,” he said. “They could be in Syria. They could be in Somalia. They could be in Tel Aviv. They could be on the West Bank.”
“They could be U.S. drones doing it,” he said. “They could be gangsters who did it 12 years ago.”
In the background, loudspeakers blared Vivaldi and Hendrix, and a woman shouted, “Blessed are the peacemakers!”
Bystanders carried placards protesting drone strikes and an attack on Syria.
Retired Episcopal bishop George E. Packard of New York, a former Army platoon leader in Vietnam, gave a blessing at the rally: “May we give to America back a certain kind of peaceful presence on this day.”
Packard said afterward that he had been among the clergy summoned to the ground-zero field morgue in New York 12 years ago.
“I stood with the Muslim chaplain, and the Jewish chaplain, and the Catholic chaplain,” he said. “And we would say prayers over the small body parts we’d find, and there was a kind of brotherhood there.”
He lamented that Wednesday’s remembrances were so “strident.”
Meanwhile, motorcyclists who had been denied a permit to parade downtown en masse instead rode about in smaller, colorful groups to commemorate the day and protest their permit denial.
Roger W. Snuffer of Somerset, Pa., had ridden to Washington on a pristine motorcycle decked out in an American-style flag with the number 93 in the blue canton, in honor of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville.
Snuffer said he was in the National Guard on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I actually had to go out to the site and recover pieces,” he said as he stood by his motorcycle on Constitution Avenue in a red, white and blue head bandanna. “So it means a lot to me about 9/11.”
“My opinion is, some of the people in the country have forgotten,” he said. “It’s something to remember and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Krissah Thompson and Mark Berman contributed to this report.