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Bush Marks Fifth Anniversary of Terrorist Attacks

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

I'm Madeleine Brand. Coming up, five years after the attacks of September 11th, what about that memorial at Ground Zero? Frustration with the pace of rebuilding.

CHADWICK: First, in New York and at the Pentagon and in a field in western Pennsylvania, a day of mourning. Moments of silence punctuated ceremonies to remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks five years ago today.

President Bush is visiting all three sites today, starting at Ground Zero in New York, traveling to Shanksville, and finally to the Pentagon. From New York, NPR's Diantha Parker reports.

DIANTHA PARKER: Crowds began gathering at Ground Zero before sunrise. But the ceremonies there officially began about 20 minutes to nine with remarks from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (New York City): We come back to this place to remember the heartbreaking anniversary and each person who died here - those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us.

(Soundbite of bell ringing)

PARKER: That bell rang at 8:46 this morning to mark the crash of the first plane into the North Tower. The sound announced the first of four moments of silence observed during the morning. The others - at 9:03, 9:59, and 10:29 -marked when the second plane hit and the two towers fell.

Each year since the attacks has been marked by a reading of the names of the dead - to date, 2,749 people. This year, a cello played softly as spouses, partners, and significant others did the honors.

Unidentified Woman #1: Daniel Thomas Aflito(ph).

Unidentified Woman #2: Emanuel Acquasi Afucua(ph).

Unidentified Woman #3: Aluk Agarawal(ph).

Unidentified Woman #4: Mukul Kumar Agarwala(ph).

Unidentified Woman #5: And to my husband, Richard Anthony Accetto(ph) - our daughter Christina and I love you and miss you very, very much.

PARKER: Some New Yorkers are intentionally staying away from Ground Zero today. Cynthia Aberion(ph) is one of them.

Ms. CYNTHIA ABERION (New York Resident): I used to work for Lehman Brothers. I saw the first plane before it hit. So for me, that's very scary. I'm a little bit scared today.

PARKER: And others who weren't there say the attacks seem much nearer than five years ago - maybe a year, says Josh Quadro(ph). He says he's sad but not especially fearful because he has it easy compared to some.

Mr. JOSH QUADRO (New York resident): I have family in Iraq right now fighting. So, you know, I'm more worried about them than I am, you know, myself, so.

PARKER: The ceremonies in New York are continuing throughout the afternoon. Musicians in 80 parks will play in what's called the September Concert. The program includes a statewide sing along of The Beatles' All You Need is Love.

The day's final official tribute begins after sunset when the city fills the gap in its skyline with two towers of light.

Diantha Parker, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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