The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Featured Story

September 10, 2013

9/11 ceremony will be a quiet 'last' for mayor

NEW YORK — When this year's Sept. 11 anniversary ceremony unfolds at ground zero, the mayor who has helped orchestrate the observances from their start will be watching for his last time in office. And saying nothing.

Over his years as mayor and chairman of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum, Michael Bloomberg has sometimes tangled with victims' relatives, religious leaders and other elected officials over an event steeped in symbolism and emotion.

But his administration has largely succeeded at its goal of keeping the commemoration centered on the attacks' victims and their families and relatively free of political image-making. In that spirit, no politicians — including the mayor — were allowed to speak last year or will be this year.

Memorial organizers expect to take primary responsibility for the ceremony next year and say they plan to continue concentrating the event on victims' loved ones, even as the forthcoming museum creates a new, broader framework for remembering 9/11.

"As things evolve in the future, the focus on the remembrance is going to stay sacrosanct," memorial President Joe Daniels says.

At Wednesday's ceremony on the 2-year-old memorial plaza, relatives will again read the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died when hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa. Readers also will recite the 1993 trade center bombing victims' names.

At the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, where Wednesday's ceremony will include bell-ringing and wreath-laying, officials gathered Tuesday to mark the start of construction on a visitor center. The Pentagon plans a Wednesday morning ceremony for victims' relatives and survivors of the attacks, with wreath-laying and remarks from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other officials, and an afternoon observance for Pentagon workers.

Deciding how to mark the anniversary of the worst terror strike in U.S. history was a sensitive task for Bloomberg and other leaders in the months after the attacks, perhaps especially for the then-new mayor. Officials were planning a memorial service for thousands of families from 90 countries, while also setting a tone for how the public would commemorate 9/11.

"That was the challenge that we faced, and it was an enormous one," recalls Jonathan Greenspun, who then was part of Bloomberg's community affairs unit and now is a political consultant. "There was a recognition, by the mayor, that the ceremony had to transcend typical memorial services and the politics that are sometimes associated with them."

Officials fielded about 4,500 suggestions — including a Broadway parade honoring rescue workers and a one-minute blackout of all Manhattan — before crafting a plan centered on reading names at ground zero.

"Our intent is to have a day of observances that are simple and powerful," Bloomberg said as he and then-Gov. George Pataki announced the plans in 2002.

For years, the ceremonies did include politicians reading names and texts, and Bloomberg made remarks that over the years touched on Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 London subway bombings and the Biblical King David's grief at the death of his son Absolom, among other topics.

Bloomberg's role hasn't always been comfortable, especially for a mayor whose brisk, pragmatic personality and early criticisms of the memorial struck some victims' relatives as insensitive.

When the ceremony was shifted to nearby Zuccotti Park in 2007 because of rebuilding at the trade center site, some victims' relatives threatened to boycott the occasion.

The lead-up to the 10th anniversary brought pressure to invite more political figures and to include clergy in the ceremony. And when Bloomberg mentioned the idea of ending the name-reading the next year, some of the relatives were aghast.

By next year's anniversary, Bloomberg will be out of office, and the museum is expected to be open beneath the memorial plaza.

While the memorial honors those killed, the museum is intended to present a broader picture of 9/11, including the experiences of survivors and first responders.

But the organizers expect they "will always keep the focus on the families on the anniversary," Daniels said. "We see ourselves as carrying on a legacy."

That focus was clear as relatives gathered last September on the tree-laden plaza, with a smaller crowd than in some prior years.

After the throng and fervor that attended the 10th anniversary, "there was something very, very different about it," says Charles Wolf, whose wife, Katherine, was killed in the trade center's north tower. "It felt almost cemetery-ish, but not really. It felt natural."

___

Follow Jennifer Peltz at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz

 

1
Text Only
Featured Story
  • CUELLARJD_5 copy.jpg Man accused of beating, torching and pointing gun at girlfriend's head

    Becerra Jose D. Jesus Cuellar was charged Tuesday with eight felonies and four misdemeanors related to the days-long incident.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oklahoma Bombing Vide_Hass.jpg Man claims tampering in case over bombing videos

    Trentadue says the agency is refusing to release videos that show a second person was with Timothy McVeigh when he parked a truck outside the Oklahoma City federal building and detonated a bomb that killed 168 people. The government says McVeigh was alone.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • flood watch.tiff UPDATED: Garfield County under flash flood watch

    Rainfall chances start in earnest tonight, with an 80 percent chance after 2 a.m. that increases to 90 percent Wednesday and Wednesday night. Flooding in streets, ditches and low-lying areas could be possible.

    July 29, 2014 7 Photos

  • storm_W.jpg Storm victims face dilemma: accept loans or reject them

    The tornadoes, flooding and hail that struck Oklahoma last year left hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, causing many home and business owners to seek help in the form of low-interest federal loans.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Quilts_4_BH_W.jpg History of an art form

    Woven amongst the fabric, patterns and stitches in the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center’s newest special exhibit are stories of past generations.

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • Academy.jpg State prisons expand their reach to train new officers

    On a recent day, a class in the McAlester program was filled with the sounds of bodies thudding onto thick, rainbow-colored pads held together by duct tape, along with heavy breathing and tapping as cadets indicated they’d successfully been subdued.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • FortStillFacility.jpg FBI: No arrests yet in scam targeting migrant kids

    Con artists use private information about the children to contact their family members and demand payment for bogus processing and travel expenses needed to reunite the kids with their relatives. Families with migrants in Texas and Oklahoma have been targeted.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • Child Tax Credit_Hass.jpg House votes to boost child tax credit for some

    With nearly all Republicans voting in favor and most Democrats opposed, the bill cleared the House by a vote of 237-173. The White House threatened to veto the bill, though the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to pass it.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Oil-Covered Owls_1_JN.jpg Caretaker: One of 2 oil-covered owls has died

    Jean Neal and her husband, Jim, of Fairview, have been caring for the owls since Tuesday, July 22, 2014, when they received them from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, which is investigating the incident and the death of several other birds found at a neglected oil field tank site.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Virginia Storm_Hass.jpg 2 dead, dozens hurt after storm at Va. campground

    "All hell broke loose. We got an emergency message on a cellphone and within 30 seconds, the thing hit and it blew down 40, 50 trees in the park." — Joe Colony, who has been coming to the campground for 30 years

    July 24, 2014 7 Photos

Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Broken Water Main Floods UCLA "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH)
House Ads
Facebook