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NYC Plans For Anniversary of 09-11

Aired August 6, 2002 - 11:01   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up at this hour live, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to announce the city, state and federal government's plan for the one-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. When he makes that announcement, we will bring it to you live of right here, and that story is up first this hour on CNN. Ceremonies of remembrance for the day most Americans will never forget. The city of New York outlines plans for marking the one-year anniversary.

And CNN's Michael Okwu stands by now. He is New York and he's got some more details for us. We'll check in with him now live.

Hello, Michael.

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, good morning to you.

As you know, New Yorkers are never stingy with their opinions, and they certainly haven't been stingy with those opinions when it comes to anything involving 09-11, Some of the issues resulting from 09-11 have become some of the most contentious ones here in recent years. So you can imagine that there's a great deal of anticipation here in this city about what exactly will happen on the one-year anniversary of 9/11. We're hoping to get those very specific details any moment now, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki address the media in the blue room, or just behind me in the blue room in city hall.

What we understand at this point is that it will be an all-day event, essentially, that there will be multiple events throughout the course of this city, starting in the very early morning. We understand, perhaps as early at 8:00 a.m., and going through into the late evening.

Now, the idea here we are told is to involve the entire city. That this is not just an event that is going to be focused on the families who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center. But it's also a day in which we will remind ourselves of the losses that we felt collectively as a city. And we are told that it will be a day of tribute, as well as song and music, that some of these events will take place throughout the city's parks here in New York City.

We also told that the organizers want this to be a day that is apolitical. In the past, Michael Bloomberg says he wanted thing to be as low-key as possible, as apolitical as possible, and also as moving as possible. That is clearly what happened when they closed the recovery efforts officially earlier this summer at ground zero. Many people here thought that was one of the more classy events.

Now again, we're hoping to get all of these details any moment at this point. But we understand that the main centerpiece of that day will be a 102-minute ceremony at ground zero, and of course 102 minutes, again, is time that elapsed between the first place -- first plane hitting the first tower, and the last -- the second tower to collapse that afternoon. We also understand that President Bush will be here on 9/11. In fact, this will be a city teeming with all kinds of dignitaries. At the general assembly, the United Nations will have opening sessions on September 10th, so President Bush will be here for that as well, and he will be doing something at ground zero. The details of that will be forthcoming -- Leon,

HARRIS: All right, Michael Okwu, standing by there for us in New York reporting live. Thanks, Michael. We're going to keep our eye on that picture there, as we're waiting for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to enter the room, but in the meantime, let's see if we can get some more perspective from our very own Jeff Greenfield, who has been with us quite a few times to speak about things surrounding September 11th.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, I don't think there is any question that the city is going to, essentially, come to something of a halt on the one-year anniversary. I don't know if that will be true around the country, but I do think for New York, it was the worst thing literally that ever happened to the city.

And the other part of this, which I think is broader issue, is how do you find some way to commemorate something so overwhelming? You know, if you look around the world and you see what people try to do in the face of such overwhelming loss, it's a very human attempt to come to grips with the inexplicable. Death itself is an inexplicable event that, sooner or later, all of us face. And you can see in various ceremonies about just a simple, individual death, how we cope with that. But in the case of the loss of thousands of people in the middle of an attack by enemies of the United States, there's an attempt to both solemnize the event, to honor the individuals who died, and then to say something broader about the city as a whole.

That's why the plan we're about to hear, I believe, is going to involve all five Burroughs. It's going to involve an all-day event. It's going to pay special attention to the families and the uniformed services, where so many people died involve. And it's an attempt to say many things at once in the course of a single day. And we'll see in a few moments just how the city intends to do that.

HARRIS: What I would like to know about that, is specifically with New York now, and considering the psyches of those who may be damaged by what happened. How solemn should whatever happens in all five boroughs be? The reason I ask you this, Jeff, is the e-mails we have gotten have run the gamut. Some of them say it should be very light-hearted celebrations like concerts and whatnot. Others thinking they should be very low-key, whatever celebration does take place, whatever observance that takes place should be a very low-key sort of thing in order to not necessarily evoke so many bad memories for people.

Your thoughts on that?

GREENFIELD: Yes, I think probably light-hearted is pushing it. I think uplifting may be more what some people want. There are, for instance, memorializations of horrible events that end with, for instance, Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony," which is a very soaring, uplifting kind of piece of music.

And I do think really there are many people who really would just as soon put this on a very low-key event, that, look, between the coverage of CNN and our cable competitor and the broadcast networks, I think on September 11th there's no way anybody will be able to avoid the memory of what happened, and I think a lot of people will prefer to commemorate this -- if that's the right word -- or mark it in their own way. I think some people will leave New York, because they just don't want to face the overwhelming memories of what happened on that date.

It was many things. It was an attack on the United States. It was a disaster. Tragedy is a word I avoid, because that kind of takes away the grimmer reality of what happened; this was an assault by people who hate the country. I think a lot of New Yorkers are going to just want to say, let's commemorate it, and then let's move on. This is a city about life. You know, when September 12th comes around, we have a $5 billion debt in the city. We have to rebuild a massive amount of lower New York, and we still have to help people cope with these enormous overwhelming losses.

HARRIS: Yes, we're just over a minute away from the beginning of this announcement. We just got the warning coming up from the mayor's office. Let me ask you this, Jeff, how important is it hen to have a national observance outside of New York? And if there is one that's actually designated, should it be an annual one?

GREENFIELD: Well, that's above my pay grade, Leon. I will tell you, because I don't think there's any reason not to be blunt about this. I think for most Americans, it doesn't feel like an attack on America. In a political sense, it was. When I traveled outside New York over the last several months, I had the sense that people outside look on us with sympathy, they certainly care, but it's more like people look like another city that had a flood or a tornado. We here in New York, you know where CNN is New York. We could stand -- we did stand on the roof broadcast facility, and look a couple of miles south, and see the lower end of the enveloped in smoke and death.

I, frankly, don't think many people out of New York or Washington felt that. I think there's sympathy, but I New Yorkers kind of would appreciate a kind of national recognition, but the honest answer, I just don't think it hit the country anywhere near as visceral as it hit those of us who live and work here in New York.

HARRIS: You say you observed this in talking to people across the country. Is that a recent development, do you think? Do you think that's just because of the passage of time that folks around the country have felt that little disconnection from the event that happened there in New York, or what?

GREENFIELD: I started feeling this, I guess, around the end of the year, a couple of months after the event. And I don't criticize people for that; I think it's just simple human nature. We are reminded of this in New York every day. If you take the subway, as I do, the subway doesn't run where it used to be,because it can't If you go to lower Manhattan, you see this gaping 16-acre hole in the ground, and you know what happened there, and it's unavoidable, not to mention the fact that we're about to be clobbered by a financial crisis the likes of which New York never lived through, in large measure because of September 11th, not completely.

Not saying people should care more. That's the way I felt when I saw a couple of years ago, the victims of that 500-year flood in the Midwest. I cared. We -- our hearts went to them. But it wasn't a visceral, emotional daily event for us the way it for those folks.

HARRIS: Let me ask you another human question here, and this is about the leadership of New York. Now that Mayor Bloomberg is there. We can almost expect that Rudy Giuliani had still been there, that any observance of what happened September 11th in 2002 would be very special one. How do -- what do you think about the way this mayor walking into this anniversary?

GREENFIELD: Mayor Bloomberg is one of the most unusual public officials that I or other who cover politics have ever seen. This is guy who came to this job with no political experience. and he -- and we've often heard about business people and how they think they can governor. This case of guy with no political debts, basically, and no political radar. And I think he actually has won a lot of plaudits from New Yorkers, because he seems to be governing with no eye toward anything but governing. He doesn't want another job. He certainly doesn't need a well-paying job. The guy's a worth a few billion dollars.

While it is a decided contrast to the leadership of Rudy Giuliani, I think a lot of New Yorkers are giving this guy a certain sense of slack because, a, he is a non-politician. He's not governing as a politician. And he's coming into job, which as of September 11th of last year, suddenly took on a dimension no one could have imagined, not the loss and rebuilding, and the billions of dollar and budget deficit he has to figure what to do with.

Extraordinary to watch him as a genuine nonpolitician govern as political fractious a city as New York.

HARRIS: If you were going to map out the program or whatever is going to happen on September 11th, 2002, what kind of role would you carve out for Rudy Giuliani?

GREENFIELD: I think -- look, I think there's no question that he has to be a part of it. He was a giant in those first hours and days after September 11th. He was the heart and soul of the city, trying to pick itself up after receiving the worst blow it had ever received. He deserves a place of honor in that commemoration, because I think a lot of people, even people who had no particular affection for the guy as of September 10th, recognized that what he did in the moment of New York's biggest pain and suffering was the genuine sense of the word "heroic."

You know he almost life on September 11th. He came very close to dying in that, because he happened to be down there. So he has got to be part of it, I think.

HARRIS: The mayor is going to come out here and announce his plan. Do you know whether or not there's been wide input into putting together whatever plan is going to be presented this morning?

GREENFIELD: The one thing that I do know is that the liaison with the families, the woman, Christy Ferar (ph), who's husband, Neil Leven (ph), was executive director of the Port Authority, and died in the World Trade Center attack, has said there's been enormous consultation with the families.

I mean, as you know, Leon, there's a whole big debate beyond the commemoration of what happens to ground zero, and everybody has very strong opinions about that. But in the case of this commemoration, the families are going to take a central role in it. Obviously, they should. And at least for spokeswoman's point of view, the consultation has been very effective and ongoing.

HARRIS: I just want to advise folks we're waiting for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to walk into the room there. He's going to be unveiling his plan for how the city of New York is going to be marking the anniversary of September 11th. We're talking with Jeff Greenfield about different topics around this subject.

Let me ask you, Jeff, if I can get back to other topic we talked about last week when we met here on the air, about whatever happens, the design for the plan there at ground zero. We've been away from that story since we haven't covered it very much here.

Never mind. We will get to that later on. We now see the mayor has just entered room, and is now at the podium. Let's listen in.


And I wanted to welcome Governor Pataki to the blue room, and his staff.

This morning, we are going to outline the city's plans to observe the first anniversary of the terrible attack on the World Trade Center. And I want to begin by thanking the thousand ends of people who have used Web site and phone line the city set up for this purpose. They have made suggestions about this commemoration, and we've tried to listen, and include and use as many as we could.

Many suggestions have also come from family members who lost loved ones on 9/11, and we paid particular attention to those. The overwhelming spirit of these proposals, which were remarkable for the thoughtfulness and sensitivity was to plan an observance that recalls the enormous tragedy of that terrible day. That pays tribute to the heroism and sacrifice of those we lost, and that also invokes the courage, the determination and spirit of community that New Yorkers have shown since and on 9/11. We've sought to respect those feelings.

Our intent is to have a day of observances that are simple and powerful. That honor the memory of those we lost that day and that gives New Yorkers, Americans and people around the world the opportunity to remember and reflect.

The schedule for that day will be as follows: Early on the morning of September 11th five bagpipe and drum processionals will begin to march toward the World Trade Center site from points in each of the five boroughs. The processionals will be led by the pipe and drum cores of five governmental agencies that performed heroically on 9/11 and in its aftermath -- the Fire Department of New York, the Port Authority of New York, and New Jersey, the NYPD, and the city corrections and sanitation departments.

The processionals will converge at the World Trade Center site just after 8:00 a.m. The marchers will descend the ramp, at which time a memorial service will begin.

At 8:46 a.m., the moment when the first of the Twin Towers was struck by the first hijacked airliner, I will invite all New Yorkers to take part in a moment of silence. A eulogy that will be as powerful and as relevant on September 11th as on the day it was first delivered, the Gettysburg Address, will be read by Governor Pataki.

A cross-section of New Yorkers and people from around the world, including family members and colleagues of those lost on 9/11, will read the names of the men and women who perished at the World Trade Center site that day. My predecessor, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, will lead that reading of names. If anybody has a tie to those lost, and it's appropriate to start that out, it is Rudy Giuliani.

After reading the names is completed, "Taps" will be played. New Jersey Governor James McGreevey will then read an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence.

The memorial will conclude at 10:29 a.m., which is the moment when the second of the Twin Towers collapsed. Houses of worship throughout the city are invited to toll their bells at that time.

From that moment on, throughout the day, the families of those lost on 9/11 will for the first time be invited to descend the ramp to the lowest level of the World Trade Center site. They will have an opportunity to remember their loved ones on what many consider sacred ground. We will ask them to take a rose, put it in a vase and we will save those roses and make them part of the permanent memorial when it is eventually built.

Government offices will not be closed on September 11th, and I expect that most places of business will be open. Students will attend classes. Workers will go to their jobs. We will carry on our responsibilities to our families and our city.

However, this will not be an ordinary day for anyone in New York. For that reason, I urge all houses of worship in this city to open their doors throughout the day to provide occasions for individual prayer and reflection. And the governor will talk about how we hope to have all New Yorkers, not just from New York City, but from New York State, all people, not just from New York State, but from the entire country and the world participate.

Late in the afternoon of September 11th, President George W. Bush will come to New York and visit the World Trade Center site. At sunset that evening, there will an observance at the Sphere, the sculpture that once stood in the plaza of the World Trade Center, and is now part of the temporary memorial to the Victims of 9/11 in Battery Park. Heads of state from around the world will be invited to join that ceremony, during which an eternal flame will be lit, and I will read Theodore Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms."

That evening, there will also be candlelight gatherings in the each of the five boroughs that will give us all an opportunity to reflect and be renewed. These events will take place in Central Park, Van Courtland Park, prospect Park, Flushing Meadows Park and Snug Harbor. Every New Yorker should feel welcome at one of these gathering. We ask people from around the city, the nation and the world who cannot attend one of these gatherings to light candles and join their families and neighbors on street corners or in front of their homes.

These commemorative gathering will last about 90 minutes. At these gatherings, cultural institutions in each of the five boroughs will provide music reflecting the spirit of the day. Groups performing that evening will include the Bronx Arts Ensemble in Van Courtland Park, the Brooklyn Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Brooklyn Youth Chorus at Prospect Park, the Saint Lukes Chamber Orchestra in Central Park, the Queens Symphony Orchestra at Flushing Meadows Park, and the Staten Island Symphony at Snug Harbor. Jazz at Lincoln Center will also perform at a location still to be determined.

I'm grateful for the cooperation of these cultural groups in planning these events. Private funds are being raised for planning and implementing the day. To date, approximately 20 corporations have donated funds, and more donations are needed and are being sought.

The willingness to contribute to this commemoration embodies the spirit of community that New Yorkers have shown the world on 9/11. That spirit is the reason why New Yorkers have won and the terrorist have lost. It has fueled our remarkable recovery from the attack of 9/11, and it is why New York always will remain a beacon of freedom an opportunity to people throughout the world.

Let me now introduce Governor George Pataki.

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI, NEW YORK: Thank you, mayor. Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg.

September 11th -- that date will live in people's hearts and minds for generations just as the date December 7th will never be forgotten, even by those who were not alive at the time it happened. It was the day when we saw the worst of humanity engage in the worst form of barbarism, and we saw New York, the best of New York, respond with the unbelievable courage and willingness to sacrifice that makes this a unique place in the greatest country in the world.

And it's appropriate on the first anniversary of that horrible day that we reflect, pause and honor the memory of the 2,800 heroes who died in response to that act of barbarism.

I want to thank the mayor for having outline the broad structure of what will happen on that day here in New York City and at ground zero. I think it's appropriate that it be a day of reflection, a day of introspection, and a day of remembering, and certainly making parts of our great country's history, including the Gettysburg address, the Declaration of Independence, and the four freedoms recalled, recall the history of this country and recall the sacrifice of those heroes on September 11th.

We are urging people and institutions across the state to participate equally with those who will be here at ground zero in the city. At 8:46, we are urging people across the state to observe a moment of silence and pause and reflect at the moment that the first plane -- the fist attack occurred, and in those children and schools that are open at that hour -- and schools will be open on September 11th -- we're urging the teachers to have appropriate moments of silence and age-appropriate, class-appropriate discussions with their students as to what happened on September 11th and the courage and their response that New Yorkers showed.

Similarly at 10:29, the time of the collapse of the second building, we will urge religious institutions, any academic institutions, any of those who have the ability to toll their bells across New York State, in reflection and honor of those who died when that second tower came down. And we will engage, again, in a second moment of silence and reflection at that precise time across the state, so that we honor the memory of those who died in these horrible attacks.

During the course of the day, we would urge houses of worship to be open from the early morning hours until the late evening hours, so that individuals or groups who choose to gather in their own way and reflect on the loss and sacrifice and the courage of New Yorkers on September 11th have the have opportunity to do so.

And I had the honor and the privilege after September 11th to attend numerous community gatherings, and candlelight vigils and memorial concerts in towns and villages across this state, subsequent to September 11th.

At sunset, on September 11th, 2002, we will urge communities to hold similar gatherings, community tributes, and candlelight vigils with appropriate music to allow each community to in its own way reflect on the sacrifice that it may have made on September 11th, and on the courage that its people have shown since that date.

During the course of the day, of course, there will be tributes and events done in other ways, throughout this city and across the state, and we will be, of course, participating in those.

But it is an important day. Just as we will never forget September 11th, 2001, we should all on September 11th, 2002 take the time to pause and reflect, to give thanks to the heroes, to pray for those we lost, and to commit ourselves to defending the freedoms and advancing the people's interest in this great city and this great state in honor of the memory of those heroes that we did lose.

Thank you.

BLOOMBERG: Thank you, we would be happy to take questions.

QUESTION: Why are you using the Gettysburg Address?

BLOOMBERG: I think it's the most appropriate thing that anybody could say. If you read it, it talks about hollow ground, it talks about the continuity that's America, and it points out that the 2,800 people who died on 9/11 are heroes, who have died so that we can continue to practice our religion and have the freedoms that we want. Everything that Abraham Lincoln talked about is still true today. We should remember that and keep our vigil up.

BLOOMBERG: It was a synthesis, I think, is the right word, of lots of ideas. One of the things the family members had asked for repeatedly was the eternal flame. Some of the things that they had -- didn't ask for, we tried to include to make it even better. It's a collaborative effort with an awful lot of people, and I think when you talk to the families, you'll find that most of the request for something simple and dignified that looks back and forward at the same time, hopefully, the governor and I have come up with it.

We have to build for the future, and I think that those who want to -- and all of us want to remember, want to do in our own minds and our own ways, and I think this is right balance.

QUESTION: In terms of security, what are the plans? Will there be a large mobilization?

BLOOMBERG: Well, the New York Police Department enhances security whenever there are big gatherings and they particularly will do it when there is a symbolic date, and you would expect increased police protection, increased police presence, and a lot of the kinds of security taking place that you don't see in the background. The NYPD has the resources. They have got an enormous cooperation from the state law enforcement agencies, and from the federal law enforcement agencies, and I think together, well be in very good shape.

QUESTION: Have you got any private funding, mayor? How much have you raised so far? And how much do you think you need from the state's appropriation?

BLOOMBERG: Our estimates are that in the end, it will cost about $9 million, and I believe we raised about three so far.

Paying for security is one of the very big parts of it. There is a lot of logistical kinds of things, equipment so that people at the five parks can see what's going on. And you have the issues that the actual number of people that could get close enough to hear or to see is limited because of geography, And so we have got to be able to let people elsewhere participate, and see, I'm trying to...

HARRIS: You are listening to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is there joined by Governor George Pataki there, explaining to the press exactly what is going to happen there with the celebrations an observances that will be taking place on September 11th, 2002 to mark what happened in New York City a year ago.

Jeff Greenfield is with us.

Jeff, we have seen quite a menu of events, beginning shortly off after 8:00 a.m. this morning, with five bagpipe and drum processions that will come from each of the five Burroughs and converge there at the World Trade Center, where a memorial service will be held. And then at 8:46, the moment the first tower was struck, it will be a moment of silence, which Governor Pataki says he's encouraging people across the state to observe.

And then at some point later after that, the names of all of those who were lost here will be read, and then at 10:29, the moment the second tower collapsed, all of the bells an churches across the city will be rung, or they've be asking these churches to do so.

And then, after that, the families, perhaps the most emotional moment for the day, Jeff, the families, for the first time, will be able to go down there to ground zero, to the very bottom of the level there.

GREENFIELD: I think this plan really encompasses a lot of what we heard about before we heard Mayor Bloomberg. The bagpipes and drum chorus in the uniform services, they play at funerals of police and firefighters and other city workers, and we know how much of an event that was.

The families had to be recognized appropriately as a special part of this, obviously. So for them to go to the actual site makes sense.

But then the other part that you touched on earlier, Leon, the fact New York is a 24-hour city that is trying to say, we persevere and move on, So the schools will not be closed, businesses will not be closed. In the evening, various cultural organizations, which is so much a part of New York, will perform.

I tell you one thing that really strikes me, every memorial day, in a little village up in Connecticut, Salsbury, Connecticut, where I go on places like that, they read the names of the war dead from the century's wars, and it's a small town, and there are only a few dozen. But by the time they finish reading those name of those few dozen people whose lives were snuffed out so young, they're very few people who have dry eyes.

And when you think of what's that's going to be like on September 11th, the names of some 3,000 people read at the site where they died. That's an example of trying to put some kind of meaning on an event that is so emotionally overwhelming, you almost wonder how any one is going to bear up. You remember what Mayor Giuliani said the day of September 11th, that the death toll will be more than any of us can bear. I think that may well pack impact the biggest emotional wallop of all on that day, the simple of the names of those dead. Leon:

HARRIS: And watching him may actually bring many people to the feeling of the same emotions, because as we heard Mayor Bloomberg say there, moments ago, as you look here at this live picture, about the work that still continues at ground zero. Mayor Giuliani is also going to be one of those reading the names.

GREENFIELD: Again, as we said before the mayor's announcement, he is so much at the center of what New York went through, and so much at the center of that attempt, even on that day when the city was quite literally engulfed in smoke, and death and pain, to say, we are moving on, we are going to get through this, we are going to start coping.

Not to have Mayor Giuliani at the center of this event really would have been unthinkable.

This is a case where people are trying to put meaning around an event that is quite literally -- I think we use this word when it doesn't apply -- overwhelming. In Washington, there was a Holocaust memorial, in which president Bush participated, and they lit one candle for every million dead. That struck me in thinking about this memorial today. One candle for every million people who died at one level is so -- the gap is so enormous. And at the other level, what else can you do? How do you measure the immeasurable.

QUESTION: Yes, that's almost impossible. Let me ask you finally, one quick question, we also mentioned the mayor. An observance to take back there at Battery Park was the sphere, which was located outside the World Trade Center, this damaged sphere. You may have seen it off and on, folks, if you have been watching the coverage throughout the past year, this big bronze sphere. What happens to that after this is all over, do you know, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: You know, I don't. And If I have to guess, and that's all this is, is once they actually figure out what to do with ground zero, which in my opinion is going to take not months, but years, because there you are going to See New York not only at its most emotional but its most fractious, with everybody having -- I assume that will be relocated and become a part of the ground zero memorial. But as I say, Leon, that is a semi-educated guess at best.

HARRIS: Yes and right now, it is functioning sort of as a temporary memorial, and that would be very curious to see what happens with that.

Jeff Greenfield, thanks much. Sure do appreciate it, the insight. Have a good one, Jeff.




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