Alaskans remember attacks a year later

Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2002

ANCHORAGE - Alaskans marked the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with ceremonies, processions, prayers and flowers.

Communities around the state observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. today to mark ceremonially the time the first of two commercial jets struck the World Trade Center in New York last year. American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, at 8:46 a.m. EST, four hours ahead of Alaska time.

In Anchorage, Mayor George Wuerch led a brief memorial with about 100 municipal employees at a downtown fire station. Against a backdrop of red and white engines, Wuerch praised Anchorage residents for staying calm as news of the attacks spread.

"Throughout this community, people recognized, almost by instinct, that we will not be intimated by terrorism," Wuerch said during a short speech followed by a moment of silence.

People bowed their heads until the quiet was broken when Fire Captain Jeff Dobson clanged a bell in four sets of five rings to honor the firefighters killed in rescue attempts at the World Trade Center. Jeff McDonald, a firefighter, said ringing a bell is a standard symbol that a fire has been put out, as well as a way to pay tribute to firefighters killed in the line of duty.

"We honor the 343 firefighters who were both heroes and victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," McDonald said. "For them, the final alarm has sounded. Their duty is done."

A bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace" concluded the ceremony.

In Juneau, students at the University of Alaska Southeast gathered this morning on the Auke Lake campus to remember the events of last year and observe the moment of silence.

Midday, the Juneau Glacier Valley Rotary Club dedicated a Sept. 11 statue at Riverside Rotary Park. A community-wide memorial service was planned for 7 p.m. at Centennial Hall.

Later events also were planned in Anchorage, including a downtown procession, interdenominational prayer ceremony and an evening tribute to Anchorage residents who participated in recovery efforts.

In Fairbanks, an afternoon tribute was planned at Lathrop High School. University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton was the featured speaker.

Employees of Ketchikan General Hospital were planning to plant spring bulbs and sprinkle forget-me-not seeds in the flagpole circle of the hospital's main entrance.

Outside the entrance to Denali National Park, employees of Denali Bluffs Hotel and Grande Denali Lodge unveiled a 42-foot Nenana spruce flagpole as a Sept. 11 monument.

Coverage of today's Sept. 11 events in Juneau will be featured in Thursday's Empire.

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