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The anniversary of Sept. 11 at ground zero has now become an occasion for public reflection on the site of the terror attacks, after years as a private commemoration.  Last year about 20,000 people arrived at the memorial plaza on the evening of Sept. 11, which was the first year the public was able to visit on the anniversary.

After Friday’s 14th anniversary ceremony the plaza will open three hours earlier, where victims’ families will gather for what has become a tradition of tolling bells, observing moments of silence and reading the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror strike.

National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum President Joe Daniels said this week that the memorial will still be reserved for victims’ relatives and other invitees during the morning ceremony, afterward, “the general public that wants to come and pay their respects on this most sacred ground should be let in as soon as possible.” It’s been nearly a decade and a half after hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center’s twin towers, the Pentagon and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the anniversary continues to be marked with observances around the country.

The Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville in western Pennsylvania is honoring this day by marking the completion of its visitor center, which opened to the public Thursday.  President Barack Obama will observe the anniversary with a visit to Fort Meade, Maryland, in order to recognize the military’s work to protect the country.

In Ohio the statehouse will display nearly 3,000 flags, representing the lives lost in an arrangement designed to represent the World Trade Center towers, with a Pentagon-shaped space and an open strip representing the field near Shanksville. Sacramento, California, will also commemorate 9/11 however it will be in conjunction with a parade honoring three Sacramento-area friends who tackled a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound high-speed train last month.

Some members of Congress in Washington, plan to spend part of the anniversary discussing federal funding for the ground zero memorial. However some of those close to the commemoration events aim to keep policy and politics away on Sept. 11.

In 2012 organizers of the ground zero ceremony decided to stop letting elected officials read names, though politicians still can attend. In the past some victims’ relatives have invoked political matters while reading names such as declaring that Sept. 11 should be a national holiday but others have sought to keep the focus personal.


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