New York pauses to mark 9/11 anniversary (Second Lead)

September 11th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew York, Sep 11 (IANS) Families and friends of over 2,700 victims of terrorist plane attacks that felled the World Trade Centre’s twin towers convened at Ground Zero Thursday morning to observe the seventh anniversary of the tragedy even as the two rival presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, were scheduled to attend a ceremony there together in the afternoon. The solemn occasion was marked at Ground Zero by observing silence at 8.46 a.m. and 9.03 a.m. local time, marking the moments when the planes crashed into each tower, as well as at 9.59 a.m. and 10.29 a.m. when each building collapsed.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened the memorial event at Ground Zero, where families of the victims read out a roll call of the names of those who died.

The 2,751 victims included scores of Indians and Indian Americans. One unidentified victim is Sneha Philip, an Indian American doctor who mysteriously vanished on Sep 10, 2001, but a court ruled that she was likely killed at the trade centre on the fateful day.

The events marking the biggest terrorist strike ever in the world include McCain and Obama laying wreaths at Ground Zero. They will not address the gathering and for 24 hours put aside politics and suspend their heated campaigns. Later in the evening, the two were to attend a New York City forum on public service and volunteerism, to be televised by CNN.

McCain was also attending a memorial service in Pennsylvania for the 40 people killed aboard the hijacked flight United 93.

At the Pentagon, President George W. Bush dedicated a new memorial. The memorial in Washington has been built at a cost of $22 million on a piece of land within view of the site where another hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon’s west wall, killing 184.

The 9/11 attacks, which triggered the US-led invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban and the Bush administration’s prolonged war on terror, are regarded as the defining moment of the Bush’s time in office.

“The president thinks about 9/11 every single day when he wakes up and before he goes to bed,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said on Wednesday.

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