National News

N.C., nation mark solemn day with service

Posted September 10, 2009 4:42 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2009 7:42 a.m. EDT

— Americans undertook old rituals and new volunteer projects Friday to honor the spirit of those rushed who rushed to help after the worst terror attack in American history killed nearly 3,000 people killed Sept. 11, 2001.

The attacks killed 40 people on United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed outside Shanksville, Penn.; 184 at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; and 2,752 at the World Trade Center in New York City.

In those locations, the rituals of remembrance took a familiar form. Names were read, bells tolls and tears flowed under gray skies in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. 

At ground zero, volunteers joined relatives of the lost to read the names of those killed in the twin towers.

President Barack Obama, observing his first Sept. 11 as president, had signed an order declaring it a day of service. He had first lady Michelle Obama marked a moment of silence outside the White House as a bugler played taps.

In Raleigh, crews at the 27 city fire stations stood outside for a moment of silence at 9:59 a.m. – the moment when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in New York City -- to remember those who died in the attacks.

College students at North Carolina State University and Meredith College planted nearly 3,000 American flags near N.C. State's brickyard to symbolize those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It is imperative that we, as a nation of patriots, do not forget this tragedy, and it serves as a constant reminder of the strength of our nation and will of our people," said Ches McDowell, chairman of the College Republicans at N.C. State.

In Fayetteville, local government and church leaders heeded the president’s call to service. They gathered at the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial to call on people to do community service projects.

Asheboro hosted the first-ever Sept. 11 First Responders Ceremony at Bicentennial Park. Military representatives acknowledged the role the community plays in support of  the Special Forces training exercises known as Robin Sage.

Cary hosted a musical program, "A Time of Remembrance and Reflection," in Bond Park's Sertoma Amphitheatre on High House Road.

Around the country, Americans packed up care packages for soldiers, planted gardens for low-income families and painted abandoned, boarded-up homes. 

"I ask that you honor my son and all those who perished eight years ago ... by volunteering, by making some kind of act of kindness in their memory," said Gloria Russin, whose son, Steven Harris Russin, was killed on 9/11.

"From this day forward, we will safeguard the memories of those who died by rekindling the spirit of service that lit our city with hope and helped keep us strong," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the ceremony.

Vice President Joe Biden, speaking during a break in the list of names, told the several hundred gathered that "there's a special fraternity for those of us who've lost spouses and children." Biden's daughter and first wife died in a 1972 car accident.