The Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON – Even those who decline to watch the inevitable replay of planes barreling into buildings will have a hard time forgetting what day it is tomorrow.
Sept. 11 will stare back from the face of a wristwatch, the page of a calendar, the bottom of the computer screen, the top of the morning newspaper – an anniversary demanding recognition from a country not quite sure how to give it. And there will be little rhyme or reason to how most people choose to remember a date few had the chance to forget.
An eternal flame will light in New York, bells will peal in Alaska, porch lights will burn in Kansas. Some neighbors in a suburb of Washington will march in a parade; in Orlando, Fla., they’ll gather with candles at dusk on their front lawns. San Franciscans will line up to give blood. SWAT teams in Indiana will demonstrate their public safety prowess. Buses and trains will run with headlights on in Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Houston; San Mateo, Calif.; and Spokane, Wash. Fire trucks will blow their horns in Waco, Texas. In Honolulu, thousands of children will spell “Aloha 9/11” on a stadium field. And all over the country, Sunday pulpits will stir with Wednesday morning words of comfort.
“Most anniversaries have a culturally relevant tradition that tells us the right way to do it – a visit to a grave, a cake for a birthday – and not a tremendous amount of innovation is required,” said Paul Ofman, a New York psychologist at RHR International, a management consulting firm. “Here we have no tradition, nothing to hold on to. As a nation, we’ll have to figure out what works.”
Honoring Sept. 11 is a national duty that came with no set of instructions, a collective bowing of heads with no director. The observances will move haphazardly through the day, much as the tragedy did with the ceremonies most sweeping in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
But the eyes of the nation’s capital will focus on the Pentagon, the point of impact restored by workers who labored around the clock for much of the past year, protesting when government officials ordered them to take Christmas off.
Some 12,000 people, including President Bush – who will fly to New York afterward – and several who were injured in the attacks and survivors of those killed are expected to turn out for a moment of silence at 9:39 a.m. , when the plane struck. The huge flag that hung over the building’s wounds that day will be reinstalled at the same spot.
In Pennsylvania, as many as 50,000 are expected at a memorial for the passengers of Flight 93, whose rebellion probably foiled an attack on a fourth building. White House staffers who believe that plane may have been headed their way intend to gather on the mansion’s lawn in special tribute.