The Associated Press
NEW YORK ? The thousands killed on Sept. 11 will be honored where they died and across the nation on the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks Thursday, with cities falling silent, names read aloud, wreaths laid and bells tolling for the dead.
Two years to the minute after hijackers crashed American Flight 11 into the World Trade Center's north tower, victims' relatives and dignitaries will pause in silence at ground zero. In Washington, President Bush will observe the 8:46 a.m. moment on the South Lawn of the White House.
At the trade center, on a stage near where the north tower once stood, 200 children will take turns reading the 2,792 names of people lost in the attack.
"I thought it would be a good way to honor my dad, and to honor the other people," said 11-year-old Madilynn Morris, who will recite 14 names, ending with her father, Seth Allan Morris.
The reading will pause at three other moments ? the crash of United Flight 175 into the south tower, the skyscraper's collapse an hour later, and the collapse of the north tower about 30 minutes after that.
At the Pentagon, officials and families will mark with silence the moment another hijacked jet slammed into the Defense Department headquarters. The 9:37 a.m. crash killed 125 people on the ground and 59 on the plane.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will attend a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery in the morning, followed by a flag presentation at the Pentagon.
About 30 minutes after the Pentagon commemoration, bells will toll in rural communities in southeastern Pennsylvania to mark the time that the fourth hijacked plane plunged into a field there, killing all 40 passengers and crew.
Nationwide, Americans will mark the day with reminders of life, death and peace.
Twisted pieces of steel hauled from the trade center ruins and shipped to other states for permanent memorials will serve as reminders of the disaster at remembrances from North Dakota to Florida. In New Mexico, for example, people will gather at a church where two steel beams from the trade center now form part of the bell tower.
White doves will be released in Toledo, Ohio, after a recitation of victims' names.
Scores of companies, large and small, are encouraging employees to spend the day doing good deeds ? raising money, giving blood, and donating food and clothing at events in several cities.
Some hope the tradition will continue for years to come. One Day's Pay, a nonprofit organization, is seeking to establish Sept. 11 as an annual day of volunteer service.
From Delaware to California, fire departments planned processions and prayers to honor rescue workers who died in the assault. Motorcycle riders will raise money in Tampa, Fla., for the families of police officers, firefighters and U.S. Special Operations forces who have died in the war on terror.
"It helps bring people together and it helps us feel united," said Elaine Diaz, a spokeswoman for the fund-raiser.
During the ground zero reading in New York, families will descend a ramp into the seven-story pit that was the trade center basement, and place flowers on the bedrock.
The trade center program ? similar to last year's three-hour memorial ? will include readings by family members, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, his successor, Michael Bloomberg, and the governors of New York and New Jersey. Following last year's practice, speeches will be limited.
A children's chorus will sing several songs, concluding the ceremony with "America the Beautiful." As the sun sets, two beams pointing skyward will be switched on, invoking the image of the twin towers.
When the children read the victims' names at ground zero, Madilynn Morris' mother hopes Americans are watching and paying attention to their young, solemn faces. Madilynn's 35-year-old father was among the 658 employees of the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald who were killed the attack.
"Maybe people will think, ?That could have been my kid standing up there,' and we'll continue the fight against terrorism so another child doesn't have to lose a parent," Lynn Morris said.