September 11, 2009
I woke up this morning hearing Julie Andrews singing The Sound of Music followed by an image of her flying off with her umbrella as the magical Nanny, Mary Poppins. Lots of metaphors here
As I opened my eyes, an acrid smell of smoke filled the room. I sat up and looked around. This was not fresh smoke, but the kind you experience when you are in the home of smokers, that has accumulated over time.
Connecting the dots ... I remembered that is the smell I associate with the spirits of 9/11 when they pay me a visit. The feeling was one of freedom followed by a barrage of stories about what had happened in the years since I met with them and their loved one, some of whom had also crossed over in the past 8 years. Yes John - Joyce was here and off to meet you and the others on this rain-soaked day in the city. (Is that a Mary Poppins reference?)
This year the annual commemoration of the attacks in the US has been given a new name - the National Day of Service and Remembrance. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle have called on Americans to carry out community service as a way of honoring the heroes of that dark day.
US marks 9/11 amid shooting scare BBC - September 11, 2009
Blog: A Trauma That Rippled Outward New York Times - September 11, 2009
From Associated Press
Around the country, Americans packed up care packages for soldiers, planted gardens for low-income families and painted abandoned, boarded-up homes. The anniversary Friday was declared a day of service for the first time this year to pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives to save others from the burning World Trade Center.
Memorials in New York, at the Pentagon and at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania all took place under gray skies.
At the trade center site, volunteers - from soup kitchens, advocacy groups, the Red Cross, the United Way - joined relatives of the lost to read the names of those killed in the twin towers. They spoke under tents to protect against rain.
Hours after the attack and for weeks afterward, volunteers responded to New York City's needs, sending emergency workers to help with the recovery, cards to victims' families, and boxes of supplies.
President Barack Obama, observing his first Sept. 11 as president, declared it a day of service. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recalled acts of post-9/11 selflessness as links "in a continuous chain that stopped us from falling into cynicism and despair."
Eight years later, Americans marked the anniversary with service projects.
Volunteers in Boston stuffed packages for military personnel overseas. In Tennessee and West Virginia, they distributed donated food for the needy. In Chicago, they tilled community gardens, cooked lunch for residents of a shelter and packed food for mothers and babies.
And on the Ohio Statehouse lawn, volunteers arranged nearly 3,000 small American flags in a pattern reminiscent of the trade center's twin towers. At the top was an open space in the shape of a pentagon.
"It's different than just seeing numbers on a paper, when you actually see the flags. It's a visual impact of those lives," said Nikki Marlette, 62, of the Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes Estates, visiting Columbus for Saturday's Ohio State-Southern California football game.
Rapper Jay-Z pitched in Friday night with a sold-out Madison Square Garden concert paying tribute to fallen police and firefighters. The proceeds will be donated to the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund.
As the names of the World Trade Center victims were read earlier in the day, some relatives called out greetings and messages of remembrances when they reached the names of their own loved ones.
"We love you, Dad, and we miss you," said Philip Hayes Jr., whose father, long retired from the Fire Department, rushed to the site that 2001 morning and ultimately gave his life.
Theresa Mullan, who lost her firefighter son, Michael, wore a poncho and shivered in the rain as she waited for her son's name to be called. She said she couldn't dream of being anywhere else. "It's a small inconvenience," she said of the weather. "My son is the one who ran into a burning building."
Moments of silence were observed at 8:46, 9:03, 9:59 and 10:29 a.m. - the precise times that jetliners struck the north and south towers of the trade center and that each tower fell.
At ground zero in lower Manhattan, relatives and friends of victims visited a partially built, street-level Sept. 11 memorial plaza that had not been there a year ago.
The memorial, to be partially complete by the 10th anniversary in 2011, will ultimately include two square pools evoking the towers' footprints, with victims' names surrounding them and waterfalls cascading down the sides.
In Shanksville, Pa., bells tolled for the 40 victims of the fourth hijacked jetliner that crashed there.
Eight years after 2,976 perished in the attacks, Obama vowed at the Pentagon that the United States "will never falter" in pursuit of al-Qaida. "Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still," he said.
On a day already fraught with emotion, the Coast Guard massed vessels in the Potomac River in a training exercise, causing confusion. The exercise took place near the bridge where Obama's motorcade had passed earlier. As a precaution, departures from Reagan National Airport were halted for about 22 minutes at midmorning.
Initial, mistaken reports on two cable news channels said the Coast Guard was firing shots on the river. A group for military families expressed outrage that the Coast Guard exercise was held while families of 9/11 victims were gathered at the Pentagon.
George W. Bush, whose presidency was defined in part by that day, had no public appearances planned. In a statement, he said he and his wife, Laura, were thinking of the victims and their families.
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