Bells toll at ground zero to mark 9/11

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Karen Matthews and Jen­nifer Peltz

NEW YORK >> Amer­i­cans com­mem­o­rated 9/11 with solemn re­mem­brances and vows to “never for­get” 18 years af­ter the dead­li­est ter­ror at­tacks on Amer­i­can soil.

A crowd of vic­tims’ rel­a­tives as­sem­bled at ground zero, where the ob­ser­vance be­gan Wed­nes­day with a mo­ment of si­lence and tolling bells at 8:46 a.m. — the mo­ment when a hi­jacked plane slammed into the World Trade Cen­ter’s north tower.

“As long as the city will gift us this mo­ment, I will be here,” Margie Miller said at the ground zero cer­e­mony, which she at­tends ev­ery year. She lost her hus­band, Joel.

“Be­cause I feel like if we don’t come, they don’t need to do it. And I want peo­ple to re­mem­ber,” said Miller, of Bald­win, on Long Is­land. Af­ter so many years of an­niver­saries, she has come to know other vic­tims’ rel­a­tives, and to ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing with them.

“There’s smiles in be­tween the tears that say we didn’t do this jour­ney on our own. That we were here for each other. And that’s the piece that I think we get from be­ing here,” she said.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is ex­pected to join an ob­ser­vance at the Pen­tagon. Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence was sched­uled to speak at the third at­tack site, near Shanksvill­e, Penn­syl­va­nia.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, the com­man­derin-chief at the time of the 2001 at­tacks, is due at an af­ter­noon wreath-lay­ing at the Pen­tagon.

The na­tion is still grap­pling with the af­ter­math of 9/11 at ground zero, in Con­gress and be­yond. The at­tacks’ af­ter­math is vis­i­ble from air­port se­cu­rity check­points to Afghanista­n. A rocket ex­ploded at the U.S. em­bassy as the an­niver­sary be­gan in Afghanista­n, where a post-9/11 in­va­sion has be­come Amer­ica’s long­est war.

The an­niver­sary cer­e­monies cen­ter on re­mem­ber­ing the nearly 3,000 peo­ple killed when hi­jacked planes rammed into the trade cen­ter, the Pen­tagon and a field near Shanksvill­e on Sept. 11, 2001. All those vic­tims’ names are read aloud at the ground zero cer­e­mony.

But there has been grow­ing aware­ness in re­cent years of the suf­fer­ing of an­other group of peo­ple tied to the tragedy: fire­fight­ers, po­lice and oth­ers who died or fell ill af­ter ex­po­sure to the wreck­age and the tox­ins un­leashed in it.

While re­search con­tin­ues into whether those ill­nesses are tied to 9/11 tox­ins, a vic­tims com­pen­sa­tion fund for peo­ple with po­ten­tially Sept. 11-re­lated health prob­lems has awarded more than $5.5 bil­lion so far. Over 51,000 peo­ple have ap­plied.

Af­ter years of leg­isla­tive grid­lock, dwin­dling money in the fund and fer­vent ac­tivism by ail­ing first re­spon­ders and their ad­vo­cates, Con­gress this sum­mer made sure the fund won’t run dry . Trump, a Re­pub­li­can and a New Yorker who was in the city on 9/11, signed the mea­sure in July.

The sick gained new recog­ni­tion this year at the memorial plaza at ground zero, where the new 9/11 Memorial Glade was ded­i­cated this spring.

The tribute fea­tures six large stacks of gran­ite in­laid with sal­vaged trade cen­ter steel, with a ded­i­ca­tion “to those whose ac­tions in our time of need led to their in­jury, sick­ness, and death.” No one is named specif­i­cally.

Some 9/11 memo­ri­als else­where al­ready in­cluded sick­ened res­cue, re­cov­ery and cleanup work­ers, and there is a re­mem­brance wall en­tirely fo­cused on them in Nescon­set, on Long Is­land. But those who fell ill or were in­jured, and their fam­i­lies, say hav­ing a tribute at ground zero car­ries spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance.

Mean­while, the Pen­tagon an­nounced Mon­day that its 9/11 memorial will close next week for elec­tri­cal and light­ing work. The project, ex­pected to take un­til late May, in­cludes re­pairs to light­ing glitches in the shal­low re­flect­ing pools un­der the memorial benches.

Sept. 11 is known not only as a day for re­mem­brance and pa­tri­o­tism, but also as a day of ser­vice. Peo­ple around the coun­try con­tinue to vol­un­teer at food banks, schools, home-build­ing projects, park cleanups and other char­i­ta­ble en­deav­ors on and near the an­niver­sary.

CRAIG RUT­TLE — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

New York City fire­fight­ers stand at at­ten­tion in front of a memorial in New York on Wed­nes­day.

PHO­TOS BY DEBBY HIGH FOR ME­DI­ANEWS GROUP

Pa­tri­ots Day cer­e­mony Re­mem­ber­ing Septem­ber 11 was held at Amer­i­can Lea­gion Post #242Quak­er­town.

Hon­or­ing first re­spon­ders was part of the cer­e­mony Wed­nes­day. An Honor Guard per­forms a ri­fle salute, and Taps was played by Charley Strunk.

At­ten­dees sing the na­tional an­them at Amer­i­can Lea­gion Post 242Quak­er­town.

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Craig Staats speaks at the Re­mem­ber­ing Septem­ber 11 cer­e­mony at Amer­i­can Lea­gion Post 242Quak­er­town.

Craig Wil­helm, Easter Sec­tion Vice Com­man­der speaks at the Re­mem­ber­ing Septem­ber 11 cer­e­mony at Amer­i­can Lea­gion Post 242 Quak­er­town.

For­mer State Rep. Paul Cly­mer of Perkasie salutes at the re­mem­brance cer­e­mony.

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