Baha'i News -- How America will remember Sept. 11 [ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 8/4/02]

How America will remember Sept. 11

By DON PLUMMER and RON TAYLOR
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writers

Stuart Ramson
Many will remember the police and firefighters who lost their lives in the terrorist tragedy in New York.


How do you mark the first year of a war that cannot be seen and a grief that does not end?

The anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America will be commemorated with tolling bells, common prayers and moments of silence, but a big part of the observance will be simply trying not to offend a nation still mourning the dramatic loss of 3,056 lives.

Few aspects of American life were untouched by the tragedy. The recovery has had an impact on our politics, economics, religion, social attitudes, ideas and aesthetics.

The Sept. 11 memorial seems likely to quiet even the loudest voices of commerce and discontent for a day.

Some advertisers have indicated they will not advertise on that date. Others will emphasize our common values, not their products. Some TV networks have said they will not run commercials. Major League Baseball players are putting off a possible strike until after Sept. 11.

Baseball will maintain a full schedule Sept. 11 and allow individual clubs to determine how to recognize the event. The Braves, who will play host to the New York Mets in a doubleheader that day, have yet to determine what they will do.

The National Football League plans to have flag decals on uniforms and coaches' caps for games played the weekend before Sept. 11.

Airlines are cutting back on Sept. 11 flights, particularly in cities where memories are vivid of hijacked jetliners turned into guided missiles, raining fire and rubble.

United Airlines and American Airlines, whose planes were hijacked, have canceled Sept. 11 flights with times and routes that resemble the flights that crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. Delta is trimming flights Sept. 9-13, citing poor bookings for that week.

Business may not be as usual for much of September.

New York officials are taking heat for allowing a Sept. 5 rock concert in Times Square to kick off the NFL season six days before the anniversary. To avoid similar controversy, the fashion industry erased Sept. 11 from its fall schedule and moved the Sept. 12 kickoff for spring collections from New York to London.

Spiritual connection

For the most part, Sept. 11 is expected to be a time for public grieving and spiritual connection.

In Atlanta, Gov. Roy Barnes and Mayor Shirley Franklin will honor the occasion by attending an interfaith service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of the civil rights movement.

A national moment of silence is planned at 9:03 a.m., the time when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. American Airlines Flight 11 had already crashed into the north tower at 8:45 a.m.

Fire stations nationwide will hold ceremonies to mark the deaths of 343 firefighters in rescue efforts at the World Trade Center. Just before 10 a.m., trucks will be rolled out of their stations, said Mark Light of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

In New York, five chimes will be sounded at 10:05 a.m., when the first of the two towers collapsed. That will be followed by prayer and the reading of the names of the dead firefighters. A second set of five chimes will be rung at 10:28, the time the second tower collapsed.

"The magnitude of the sacrifice demanded that we have a special observation," Light said.

Most metro Atlanta fire departments will hold ceremonies. In Marietta, firefighters, police and the military also will be recognized at an evening ceremony in the square.

Bells will chime in New York for all 2,823 people who died when two hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center and in Washington for the 189 killed when a plane hit the Pentagon.

In rural Shanksville, Pa., where United Flight 93 crashed as passengers tried to keep hijackers away from Washington, a 2,000-pound bell will toll 40 times in honor of the passengers and crew. The ceremony will last about an hour, culminating at 10:06 a.m. -- the moment Flight 93 crashed, killing everyone aboard including four hijackers.

Continuing to try to heal the tensions between Islam, the faith of the hijackers, and followers of other faiths in America, the American Muslim Political Coordination Council is calling on mosques across the country to observe an interfaith National Day of Unity and Prayer.

Muslim clerics in Atlanta will join leaders from Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Baha'i congregations at the Ebenezer service, sponsored by the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, which was established as a response to the shock of Sept. 11.

"After Sept. 11, we realized that reaching out to others could not be put off until there is time," said Rabbi Josh Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim in Decatur. "We are hoping that the faith communities will take a more active role as custodians of the city's well-being."

Memorial TV blitz

On television, the first anniversary of Sept. 11 will look much like that devastating period one year ago when an unprecedented terrorist attack led to similarly unprecedented dedication of the airwaves to news coverage. Unlike last year, however, when most of the major broadcast and cable news networks ran commercial-free for up to four days, this year's coverage will largely take place the night of Sept. 10 and all day Sept. 11.

Expect plenty of live reports from ground zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville as well as numerous interviews with survivors and victims' family members.

All three network morning shows will extend their hours, with NBC's "Today" taking the endurance award at six hours. CBS has scored the only Sept. 11-related interview with President Bush, which it will air that day during a three-hour combined "60 Minutes"/"60 Minutes II."

Bush likely will be seen on television news reports throughout the day. White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said Friday he would mark Sept. 11 by visiting New York, the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed.

Ironically, New York may be the place least certain of how it will memorialize Sept. 11.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg created a Web site and a voice mailbox about a month ago to collect ideas for a tribute. The mayor's office said it would announce final plans in the next few weeks. Gov. George Pataki's office also hasn't announced anniversary plans.

Teachers in many cities have special lessons planned on the attacks, but not in New York. On the advice of child psychologists, the New York Board of Education advised principals to observe the date in the most unobtrusive way possible.

High school and middle school teachers and administrators believe the anniversary will provide a "teachable moment," a time when students will be eager to explore the events and their context.

More than 1,000 high schools have scheduled a five-day terrorism curriculum developed by educators at Brown University that addresses questions such as differences between a freedom fighter and a suicide bomber.

Classes will proceed at many colleges and universities, but at least 20 have canceled classes for Sept. 11 in favor of prayer services and teach-ins.

Officials at most Georgia colleges say they haven't developed plans for commemorations. But Emory University plans five days of events.


©Copyright 2002, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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