Television reporters from all around the world gathered this week in New York City and in Washington D.C. to assess for their viewers the mood of the United States on the 6th anniversary of 9/11. The latest edition of the VOA/Greek weekly television presentation Reportaz Apo Washington provides a glimpse on how the sad anniversary was observed at Ground Zero in New York and at the Pentagon, just outside of our nation’s capital. The program also reflects the sentiments of Hellene Americans whose lives were touched by the tragedy.
REPORTAZ APO WASHINGTON – 9/11 SIX YEARS LATER: REMEMBERING THE DAY THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
Mr. Bistis: Six years after 9/11 Americans continue to remember and to honor the innocent victims killed that day by the terrorist attacks, which history would describe as the bloodiest offensive ever conducted on American soil. The mourning also extended all across the Hellenic American community, which saw 33 of its members perish under the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York.
Families of the dead, visitors and officials gathered on Tuesday near Ground Zero and honored the memory of those lost. A bell sounded at 8:46 a.m. Eastern time to mark the instant the first hijacked airplane hit the WTC twin tower six years ago. At the White House, President Bush paused for a moment of silence. Shortly afterwards, back in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the crowd.
Mayor Bloomberg: “On that day, we felt isolated, but not for long, and not from each other. New Yorkers rushed to the site, not knowing which place was safe or if there was more danger ahead. They weren’t sure of anything, except that they had to be here. Six years have passed, and our place is still by your side.”
Mr. Bistis: Among those who lived through the tragedy is Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, who buried countless victims, provided spiritual and material support to survivors and affected families, particularly left behind orphan children, and has since been conducting annual memorial services for all who never returned home after the 9/11desaster. Following one such memorial service His Eminence confided to us his feelings and analyzed the meaning of the tragic event.
Archbishop Demetrios: “ It is difficult to describe my feelings. I would say that basically I feel grief and sorrow for an event that reflected man’s worst face. I am talking about the face of the terrorist, who in the name of religion kills cold-bloodedly innocent people. This is what September 11 is and this is one of the worst acts a member of the human race can engage in. We lived the tragedy intensely, not only seeing the face portrayed by the terrorists but also subsequently seeing all the other faces that were filled with sadness, pain and tears, portrayed by the people who mourned brothers, sisters, spouses and children. They are some events that are stored deeply in our memory and we easily recall periodically. September 11 is this kind of event that has since stayed on the foreground of our conscience. This is particularly so for us in New York City who continue to live with the consequences of that event. For us the terrorist threat is not theoretical. It is real. From this perspective, our feelings are not just feelings stirred up by a sad event. They are feelings of anguish and concern for where the world is headed.”
Mr. Bistis: One of the people deeply hurt by September 11, is Anthoula Katsimatides, for on that day she lost her dear brother, who was working on the 104th floor of the first WTC tower. Neither she or her parents can forget him.
Ms. Katsimatides: “Yanni was the pride of our family, with his happy face, his smile and his wit. He was giving us a lot of courage because we as a family had earlier lived some other sad experiences. He was a source of support for all of us.
He loved life. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He had so many friends. He also loved Greece, particularly his favorite Nisyros. He was my best friend. It is difficult, but I know that life needs to go on. John would have wanted us to live our lives with happiness and hope because he was this kind of person and had this kind of character.”
Mr. Bistis: At the Pentagon, where 184 people died in the crash of the fourth hijacked plane, Defense Secretary Robert Gates vowed to strike back against terrorists.
Secretary Gates: “The enemies of America, the enemies of our values and our liberty, will never again rest easy, for we will hunt them down relentlessly and without reservation.”
Mr. Bistis: The key planner of the attacks, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, released a videotape praising one of the 19 suicide hijackers and in an interview with the ABC television network, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell assured that the U.S. government will not let its guard down.
Director McConnell: We are safer today, but we are not safe. The worry is that we have to maintain our vigilance.”
Mr. Bistis: This anniversary was the first that fell on a Tuesday, the same day hijackers crashed planes into buildings six years ago. In all, the September 11th attacks claimed the lives of almost three thousand people.