By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The reading of the names of the dead began in the early morning rain Friday, a block from Ground Zero, marking the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Sophia B. Addo. Sean Booker. Patrick Currivan. Niurka Davila. Andrew Fisher. John R. Fisher. "And my father, Thomas J. Fisher."
In Washington, President Obama marked the first commemoration of the attacks since he took office with a moment of silence, a wreath laying and a national call to public service. Accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, he and White House staff members assembled on the South Lawn at 8:46 a.m., precisely eight years after the first of two hijacked jetliners struck the World Trade Center in New York. A bell rang three times. They all bowed their heads, and a bugler played taps.
Later in the morning, Obama stood without an umbrella in the misting rain at the Pentagon Memorial, where 184 people died when a third hijacked jet was flown into the Defense Department headquarters. Perhaps 100 family members of victims were guests. Several walked the perimeter of the memorial alone or in pairs. Most stood close to one another.
"Nearly 3,000 days have passed; almost one for each of those taken from us," Obama said, his dark suit glistening with rainfall. "But no turning of the season can diminish the pain and the loss of that day. No passage of time and no dark skies can ever dull the meaning of this moment."
The people who died that day, he told their family members, "left a legacy that still shines brightly in the darkness. . . . May God bless you and comfort you."
Lucy A. Fishman. Thomas James Fitzpatrick. David Garcia. "And my brother, Daniel James Gallagher."
In Shanksville, Pa., bells tolled for the 40 victims of the fourth hijacked jetliner, United Airlines Flight 93. Passengers used butter knives and a beverage cart to attack the hijackers who had commandeered the aircraft. The plane plummeted into an empty field, killing all aboard.
At a plaza adjacent to Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, crowds gathered to listen to the roll call of victims' names, a ceremony that has become a near-sacred annual ritual.
Vice President Biden was there with his wife, Jill. He ascended the podium in time for the moment of silence at 9:03 a.m., when the South Tower was hit, and then read a selection by the poet Mary Oliver.
"Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine," he read, the words echoing over a quiet sea of onlookers who huddled under umbrellas. "Meanwhile, the world goes on."
The final moment of silence was at 10:29 a.m., when the World Trade Center's North Tower fell.
Richard Hall. Luis Jimenez Jr. Carol Ann LaPlante. Diarelia Jovannah Mena.
In the crowd was Matt Feeney, 32, who came with his wife and two children from Florida to mark the loss of his brother, Garth Feeney, who was 28 when he died in the North Tower.
"We want to teach our kids about him," Feeney said of his brother. "We wanted them to know who he was."
Chris Stannis, 26, stopped by on his way to work to pay his respects. "People forget it's a kind of a graveyard," he said.
Obama designated Sept. 11 a national day of service and encouraged communities across the United States to participate. It was part of a national push to commemorate the attacks through good works.
The Obamas helped paint the living room in a Habitat for Humanity housing project in the Deanwood neighborhood of Northeast Washington. The president opted for a roller; the first lady used a brush.
About 200 volunteers with Greater DC Cares were at RFK Stadium, piecing together quilts to give to children who have parents serving overseas in the military. Douglas Cribbes smoothed an iron across a piece of cloth printed with a photograph of a newborn, whose tiny pink hand held his father's finger. A team from Rolls-Royce North America of Reston cut, ironed and sewed scraps of fabric into a gift for the little boy.
Harper Holmes and Seven Bloom, both 19, turned up at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethesda, helping about 45 other volunteers write postcards to service members overseas, sand doors, weed the yard or just clean up. The pair were sixth-graders when the towers fell, and now work with the National Civilian Community Corps, a public service program for young adults.
They've spent the past several months traveling across the country doing community service projects. "To see fear turned into a mass uprising of people working for others is amazing,'" Bloom said.
In downtown Washington, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other officials laid a wreath at the National Law Enforcement Memorial for those who died in the line of duty on Sept. 11, 2001.
In Stafford, law enforcement officers and other emergency personnel were offered a free lunch buffet at the Globe & Laurel Restaurant.
"These people are looking after us 24/7," said restaurant owner Richard Spooner, 84, who greeted each officer at the door. "I wanted to say 'thank you' face to face."
Ronald E. Magnuson. Dominique Pandolfo. Sgt. Maj. Larry Strickland. Elkin Yuen. "And my son Paul, who we love and miss so much."
Just before sundown, about 40 people gathered in Lafayette Square for a prayer vigil to remember the victims and survivors and to seek peaceful resolution of world divisions.
"True justice can be achieved without violence," said Ann Mulderry, whose son Stephen was killed in the South Tower. "I want to believe you can find peace and justice without the killing of others."
Nihad Awad, who heads the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called for truer interfaith understanding.
"If there is no peace amongst ourselves, there will be no peace on the Earth."
Staff writers Lori Aratani, Emma Brown, Clarence Williams, Megan Greenwell, Hamil R. Harris, Susan Kinzie, Dagny Salas, Robin Shulman, Martin Weil and Scott Wilson contributed to this report.