By Paul A. Anthony, Editor in Chief
The nation will gather to mourn and remember today, exactly one year after the terrorist attacks that left America shocked and grieving.
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four airplanes and targeted them at national landmarks, destroying New York’s World Trade Center, damaging the Pentagon and killing more than 3,000 people. The day was the second-bloodiest in American history and the worst foreign attack ever on American soil.
Ceremonies remembering the day that seems destined to be known by its numbers, “9-11”, began last weekend, with a New York ceremony featuring members of Congress in a rare show of bipartisan unity.
The special session kicked off a weekend of tributes that will culminate with today’s ceremonies at ground zero where the trade center collapsed, at the Pentagon, at the field in Pennsylvania where the fourth plane crashed and at parks and homes and government buildings across the country.
At ACU, following a special 45-minute long memorial Chapel, university officials have set aside the Living Room in the Campus Center for quiet time and reflection replete with journals, soft music and lighting. The university is flying flags at half-mast and is contributing the international flags it’s using at Chapel to Abilene’s memorial at First Baptist Church tonight.
The world too will be mourning, as a year’s worth of bickering between the United States and Europe will be put aside to remember the horrific day.
In America, President George W. Bush will visit the three crash sites and speak at each special ceremony. New York’s will be the most watched.
It will begin with a moment of silence at 7:46 a.m. CDT, when the first tower was hit, and will end at 9:29 a.m., when the second tower collapsed. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani will read the name of each victim at the ceremony.
In Washington, a candlelight vigil at Freedom Plaza will commemorate the attack on the Pentagon. A short ceremony will take place at 9:37 a.m. EDT, the moment the third plane hit the Pentagon last year.
The anniversary comes at a time of national division, with the president’s approval ratings slipping fast over questions concerning both the war on terrorism and a potential preemptive strike on Iraq.
Congress has been locked in partisan wrangling ever since its return earlier this month over bills that would affect health care, Social Security and homeland security, and a host of bitter elections that will determine the makeup of both houses of Congress is just two months away.
But all of that moves into the background for at least one day as citizens from Maine to Morocco stop to pray, remember or stay silent for a moment to commemorate the exact moments a year ago when the planes struck the World Trade Center and Pentagon.