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9/11 marked as day of service


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POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2009

NEW YORK » Americans planned beach cleanups, packages for soldiers and save-the-tree fundraisers along with familiar remembrances in three cities to mark eight years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the first time the anniversary was named a national day of service.

“;Instead of us simply remembering the horrible events and, more importantly, the heroes who lost their lives on 9/11, we are all going to turn into local heroes,”; said Ted Tenenbaum, a Los Angeles repair shop owner who offered free handyman services yesterday and planned to do so again today.

Similar donations of time and labor were planned across the country after President Barack Obama and Congress declared the day would be dedicated to service this year for the first time.

Some Americans are suspicious about the new commemoration, though, fearing it could overshadow a somber day of remembrance for nearly 3,000 people killed aboard four jetliners and at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania.

               

     

 

TODAY'S COMMEMORATIONS

U.S. and state flags will be flown at half-staff. Two ceremonies are planned:

       

» Bishop Square: Mayor Mufi Hannemann presides over a remembrance ceremony, 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. The ceremony will also honor Honolulu police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

       

» St. Andrew's Cathedral: A service of meditative prayer, 5:30 p.m., based on the quiet chanted prayer and music used by the monastic community in Taize, France.

       

 

       

“;When I first heard about it, I was concerned,”; said Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the American Airlines pilot of the hijacked jet that crashed into the Pentagon. “;I fear, I greatly fear, at some point we'll transition to turning it into Earth Day where we go and plant trees and the remembrance part will become smaller and smaller and smaller.”;

In a column in American Spectator magazine last month, conservative commentator Matthew Vadum wrote that the push for volunteerism was an attempt “;to try to change 9/11 from a day of reflection and remembrance to a day of activism, food banks and community gardens.”;

The criticism did not dampen the spirits of those who planned to participate, though.

Sue Katz, a tour bus guide in New York City, planned a walking tour in Central Park to raise money for the hundreds of century-old trees toppled by a recent storm.

Katz called the park “;New York City's lungs”; and said of the impromptu fundraiser, “;This is my way to give back.”;

A Boston group founded by victims' family members—two of the four planes left from Boston—planned to write letters to U.S. soldiers overseas and pack CARE packages. In San Diego, Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard is sponsoring a cleanup of Ocean Beach.

Volunteers who made firefighters' meals or helped remove tons of debris from the World Trade Center site planned to join family members to read the names of more than 2,700 victims killed when hijacked jetliners crashed into the towers on 9/11.

Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to attend the ceremony in New York, while Obama was to meet with family members for a ceremony at the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C.

In New York, thousands planned moments of silence four times—twice for when jetliners crashed into a Trade Center tower, and for the moments the towers collapsed.

A wreath was to be laid at a memorial to the Pentagon, where 184 people died when a hijacked jet slammed into the building. Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were to meet with victims' family members.

The president will “;speak about what the day means and the sacrifices of thousands, not just at the Pentagon, but in Pennsylvania and certainly and most obviously in New York,”; White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Near Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed, former Secretary of State Colin Powell will deliver the keynote speech.

OFFICIALS URGE ROUTINE VIGILANCE ON ANNIVERSARY

WASHINGTON » Federal officials are telling police to be vigilant on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, though they say it is routine advice.

Today is the eighth anniversary of the jetliner crashes that killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States.

The FBI and Homeland Security Department sent a bulletin to law enforcement agencies nationwide late yesterday, a copy of which was reviewed by the Associated Press. The bulletin is similar to past advisories on holidays and other significant dates, and gives no indication of any specific threat.

It reminds police that terrorists in other countries recently have attacked public business sites like hotels.

Justice Department spokesman Richard Kolko said issuing the bulletin is routine.

Associated Press