TSO’s lead cello Joseph Johnson performs a popular Catalan song called ‘Song of the Birds’ along with photos from September 11.
On Saturday morning at the World Trade Center site in New York City, they will begin just after 8:46 a.m., 20 years after the horror began.
That is the moment, on September 11, 2001, when the first victims of the terrorist attack against the United States lost their lives. When fear and agony for others began. When New Yorkers looked to the highest point on the horizon and saw smoke filling the sky. When people turned on their televisions to see something bad, something great. American Airlines Flight 11, not yet known to be a plane hijacked by five al-Qaida terrorists, had flown toward the North Tower of the World Trade Center, exploding in a ball of smoke and fire. All 87 passengers and crew on board were killed instantly, the first victims of the attack.
The ceremony will begin on Saturday in Lower Manhattan, limited to relatives of the victims of the attack and invited dignitaries. It will consist of reading the names of the deceased that day.
So many names. Reading those names, saying them out loud, is the way this nation chooses to formally remember that day. The reading will be done aloud by relatives of the victims.
At 9:03 am, the reading will stop for a moment of silence. Church bells throughout the city will ring. This marks the time when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower in a ball of orange flames as people from all over the world watched live. Sixty more victims, passengers and crew, lost their lives at that moment when everyone in the world realized what was happening.
The reading of names will continue.
The site where the ceremonies will take place in New York is also built around those names, inscribed in black granite slabs around two giant reflecting pools at the site of the twin towers. It is, even on a normal day, a gloomy and thoughtful place in the heart of the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan, where people roam, look, and reflect. The names are carved into the stone of the monument, the absence they represent carved out of a material that seems so solid.
At 9:37 am the reading of names will be paused again. The church bells will ring. This was the time that American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, across the river from Washington, killing 59 passengers and crew, and 125 people working inside the building. Having attacked the symbolic commercial heart of the United States, the terrorists had now also attacked its military headquarters.
On Saturday morning, they will also read those names at the Pentagon, where a memorial also stands today, made up of names inscribed on 184 separate cantilevered benches, marking that moment, remembering those lives.
They’ll keep reading those names, in New York and Arlington.
At 9:59 am, the readings will stop again. The church bells will ring again. This was the moment when the South Tower collapsed and 624 people were killed who had been trapped inside. There were office workers who had been trapped on the upper floors, trying to find the only intact staircase that would have led them to the lower level. There were firefighters and police officers who rushed into the building to try to save them. The efforts of those first responders were carried out by their colleagues, whose rescue work would continue for days and weeks.
The reading of the names will continue.
At 10:03 a.m., the reading will stop for the fourth time, to mark the moment when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The 40 passengers and crew members who died instantly in that accident are remembered as the first Americans to fight terrorists. Having heard on the phone about the other planes that crashed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, those on board realized that they were trapped aboard a flying missile that was heading towards another target. It is believed that the target the four hijackers on Flight 93 had in mind was the Capitol building or the White House. The passengers fought the hijackers for control of the plane and shot it down in an open field.
At that site in Shanksville, there is today a monument to those passengers, their names inscribed on slabs of white marble that are eight feet high. Next to them is a “Tower of Voices” where 40 wind chimes, one for each passenger, sound like a constant reminder.
On Saturday, in Shanksville, they will also read the names.
At 10:28, the reading will pause for the last time, the church bells will ring again. This was the moment when the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, killing 1,466 tenants and visitors, including more firefighters, police officers and ambulance workers who had been trying to evacuate the building. Although they died, their work was not in vain: Investigators later estimated that when the buildings were attacked, they contained around 17,400 people, meaning that 11 out of 12 of those who were inside at the time of the attacks came out before collapsing. . according to a 2004 New York Times report.
The collapse of the twin towers and the subsequent collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, which was structurally damaged by falling debris, left Lower Manhattan a disaster area that would take weeks to clean up and years to rebuild.
Standing at the memorial site as family members of the immediate victims will be on Saturday morning, something on the scale of that damage, the enormous wound inflicted on the world’s most powerful country and its largest city, is evident. The two monuments in black granite: black holes in the ground in the footprints of the towers, 30-foot waterfalls that fall in the dark, and the grounds around them occupy the equivalent of a few city blocks. The absence is enormous, physically and psychologically, even today, 20 years later.
President Joe Biden will visit the three memorial sites on Saturday. Former President Barack Obama will be present at the ceremony in New York. Former President George W. Bush will speak before the Shanksville ceremony. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are expected to celebrate the day in private. Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to provide remarks during a boxing match Saturday night.
At approximately 3 p.m., the World Trade Center site will reopen to the general public. Later in the evening, two brilliant rays of light will illuminate in the sky in the places where the towers once stood, from sunset to sunrise on Sunday, a public monument representing what was symbolically lost, the absence in the collective memory of Americans and those around the world. But long before that, in the private ceremony, they will continue to read all the names of those killed 20 years ago.
It is expected to take until about 1 pm to complete. Two thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven names. In New York City, Arlington, and Shanksville, they will all read them, as those who knew them will remember who they were, and an entire country reflects on what was lost.
The Canadian News
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