Remembering 9-11 ... Health And Politics Loom

Presidential politics and the health of ground zero workers loom over the former World Trade Center site this Sept. 11 perhaps more than at any other anniversary of the attacks.


The firefighters and first responders who helped rescue New Yorkers on Sept. 11 -- and later, recovered the dead -- were to read victims' names for the first time Tuesday at the sixth anniversary ceremony.

Many of the first responders have become sick, or died themselves, of respiratory problems and cancers they blame on exposure to World Trade Center dust.

First Responder Health Concerns
First Responder Health Concerns

For the first time this year, a victim who did not die at the trade center will be recognized. The city added the name of an attorney who died of lung disease five months later to its official victims' list this year.

Firefighters will share the stage with former mayor Rudy Giuliani, who many victims' families and firefighters said should not speak here this year because he is running for president. Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeking her own party's presidential nomination, also planned to attend ceremonies at ground zero.

President Bush was to spend the day in Washington, attending a private 7:30 a.m. prayer service at St. John's Episcopal Church and holding a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House.

At the main U.S. base at Afghanistan, a memorial ceremony was set to be held to coincide with the time the first hijacked airplane slammed into the twin towers.

As in past years, New York will hold four moments of silence to mark the times that two hijacked jetliners hit, and for the two times that each tower collapsed. For the first time since 2001, Sept. 11 is on a Tuesday, the day of the attacks.

In addition to first responders, others to read victims' names include city workers who participated in the cleanup, construction workers and medical examiner's officials who recovered remains and volunteers who helped serve meals at a church across from ground zero.

The ceremony was moved off the trade center site this year because of increased construction at ground zero. The victims will be remembered in a nearby park just southeast of the site, while thousands of family members planned to descend briefly below street level to lay flowers at a spot near the fallen twin towers.

After threats by family members to boycott the ceremony and hold their own shadow remembrance, the city relented and agreed to let them briefly into the pit to lay flowers on the dusty bedrock.

Other ceremonies were planned around the country, including near the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, the sites where two other hijacked jetliners crashed.

Giuliani, who has made his performance in the months after the 2001 terrorist attacks the cornerstone of his campaign, said last week that his appearance wasn't intended to be political.

"I was there when it happened and I've been there every year since then. If I didn't, it would be extremely unusual. As a personal matter, I wouldn't be able to live with myself," Giuliani said Friday.

Several family members worried that Zuccotti Park, just southeast of ground zero, would be too small to accommodate the thousands of people. City officials said there was actually more space available than at the previous location, and that fewer people have attending the ceremony each year.

Some New Jersey communities that lost many people in the attacks said their ceremonies were being scaled back, and a local television station, WABC-TV, initially decided not to air the four-hour-plus ceremony live. Station officials reversed themselves when viewers complained.

The total number of victims killed six years ago -- 2,974 -- includes 2,750 at the World Trade Center site. Forty were killed in Pennsylvania and 184 died at the Pentagon. Those numbers do not include the 19 hijackers.