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New York remembers 9/11 victims

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-09-11

Remembrance services are held in the United States to mark the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in which almost 3,000 people were killed. In New York, observers deplore the lack of progress in rebuilding "Ground Zero".

Commemorations for the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 New York terrorist attacks have taken place today, while work rebuilding “Ground Zero” remains “embarrassingly” stalled.

Almost 3,000 people were killed when two airliners, piloted by al Qaeda terrorists, smashed into New York’s iconic World Trade Center skyscrapers, the Twin Towers.



US President Barack Obama paid tribute to the victims in a speech at the Pentagon, where a third hijacked plane, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed. "No turning of the seasons can diminish the pain and the loss of that day," Obama said at the solemn memorial service.

"No passage of time, no dark skies can ever dull the meaning of this moment.”

Vice-President Joseph Biden and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg attended commemorative events at the Ground Zero site. The sound of bagpipes and drums mingled with rain as the crowd of mourners, police, firefighters, servicemen and officials gathered for the annual ceremony.

Bloomberg said the day should also be remembered for the many who volunteered to help in the aftermath of the attack, including the 343 firefighters who perished under the collapsing Twin Towers.

"Their compassion and selfless acts are etched into our city's history," Bloomberg said.

As every year, relatives of the dead and other volunteers took turns to read out the names of all the dead, and moments of silence were observed at the exact times the two planes struck and the towers fell down.

Powerful lights are to send two beams skyward from the site at nightfall.


Rebuilding at zero


But despite a deep desire to properly remember the tragedy, the financial crisis and legal wrangling have slowed rebuilding work to a snail’s pace.


"New Yorkers should be embarrassed by the failure of government officials to have successfully rebuilt Ground Zero," Barry LePatner, a construction lawyer, told the AFP.


"The only conclusion that can be drawn from a careful study of their actions at this important site is an attitude that the public be damned."


Five new skyscrapers are planned, with a park and memorial in the middle, and a transport hub.


But many now think that there is no market for all five towers.


For now, the site strikes casual observers as merely a large hole, although work on foundations of several key elements is well underway and the frame for the future Freedom Tower is rising.


A poll last week by Quinnipiac University found that two thirds of New Yorkers think even the memorial will not be ready in time for the 10th anniversary in 2011.


"We're getting fed up with the continual lack of progress at Ground Zero. And we think it's important that there be some signs of movement this year," Maurice Carroll, director of the university's polling institute said.


According to the poll, 25 percent of New Yorkers said the slow pace made them "ashamed", the highest number to give that answer since the question was first asked in 2006.

Date created : 2009-09-11