Monday, September 11, 2006
A day of remembrance
US remembers 9/11 five years on .
Two minute-long silences have been observed at the World Trade Center site to mark the fifth anniversary of the 11 September attacks.
After the first silence, which marked the time a plane hit the north tower, relatives began to read out the names of the 2,749 who died in New York.
Beforehand, bells chimed as families gathered holding photos of loved ones.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke of the "heart-breaking anniversary" as the ceremony got under way.
Flags flew at half mast as the first silence was observed at 0846 New York time (1246 GMT/ 1346 BST).
"Five years have come and gone and we still stand together as one," said Mr Bloomberg.
"We come back to this place to remember... each person who died here, those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us," said Mr Bloomberg.
"If I ever lost you, how much would I cry - how deep is the ocean? How high is the sky?," the wife of one of the victims of the attacks read, using the words of a song to express her loss.
President George W Bush joined firefighters at a New York fire station to observe the silences.
The roll call of victims' names was broken for a second silence at 0903 (1303 GMT), the time of the second strike, on the south tower.
Further silences are planned for 0959 (1359 GMT) and 1029 (1429 GMT), the times the two towers fell.
Silences are also being observed at the Boston airport from where the planes that hit the towers took off.
Mr Bush will later visit the Pentagon, hit by a third plane, and the Pennsylvania crash site of the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93.
In the evening, at 2100 local time (0100 GMT), he will make a formal TV address to the nation from the Oval Office.
It will be only the fifth time that Mr Bush has made such an address to the American people - the first was on the day of the attacks.
At Ground Zero on Sunday, President Bush and his wife, Laura, began the commemorations by placing floral wreaths of red, white and blue upon two dark pools of water as a bagpiper played America the Beautiful.
They later attended a remembrance service at a nearby chapel.
Mr Bush said the anniversary would be "a day of sadness for a lot of people".
He added: "I vowed that I'm never going to forget the lessons of that day. There's still an enemy out there that would like to inflict the same kind of damage again."
As the US began the anniversary, broadcasters aired an apparently new video from al-Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who urged Muslims to increase resistance against the US.
In the footage he referred to the recent Israeli bombardment of Lebanon, saying al-Qaeda had been given "every legitimacy" to keep fighting the US and its allies.
The events come as Mr Bush continues to face criticism over his "war on terror" in the run-up to November's mid-term Congressional elections.
Both Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the US was now safer than it was before the 2001 attacks.
Mr Cheney said: "There has not been another attack on the United States. And that's not an accident."
But Democrat Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid countered: "Vice-President Cheney's influence over our nation's foreign policy has made America less safe."
White House spokesman Tony Snow insisted Mr Bush's TV address would not be "a political speech".
"It is a reflection of what 11 September has meant to the president, and to the country; the realities that it has brought to all of our attention and how we can move forward together to try to win the war on terror," Mr Snow said.
Mr Bush's ratings soared after 11 September, but have declined with the war in Iraq and growing doubts about the administration's handling of the "war on terror".
Even as the president laid the wreaths at Ground Zero, crowds of protesters calling for a US withdrawal from Iraq gathered nearby.