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Remembering September 11, 2001

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(CNN) -- Three years after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, people across the United States and the world paused to remember the 2,973 people who were killed that day.

Nineteen hijackers flew two commercial jets into the World Trade Center's twin towers and one into the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers tried to stop the hijackers.

As the sun fell on New York on Saturday, two beams of lights were shone straight up into the sky from a site near where the towers once stood. The "Tribute in Light" beamed up from a lot between Murray and Vesey streets in Battery Park City.

The lights, designed to echo the size and shape of the towers, will shine until sunrise Sunday morning.

At 9:11 p.m. the lights on the Empire State Buidling went out for a minute's 'silence.'

Earlier Saturday at the site, a steady stream of family members walked down the long ramp leading to what was the base of the twin towers, where they could be seen crying, praying and comforting each other.

Many left roses in two reflecting pools that quickly overflowed with flowers.

Parents and grandparents of victims read the names of the 2,749 people killed in that attack.

"I think the most important thing is we are never going to forget," New York Gov. George Pataki said in an interview with CNN.

"September 11th is never just going to become a date; 2,700 isn't just going to become a number of the people that we lost. We are going to honor the memory of each individual, and that's why every name will be read today."

Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were among those delivering remarks at the New York ceremony.

Moments of silence were observed for the strikes at the towers and the moments they collapsed. The first moment of silence was 8:46 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the north tower.

Other moments of silence were held at 9:03 a.m., when the south tower was struck by United Airlines Flight 175, and at 9:59 a.m. and 10:29 a.m., when the south and north towers collapsed.

At Arlington National Cemetery, U.S. Navy chief musician Georgina Todd sang "Amazing Grace" as family members of the 184 people who were killed after American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon looked on.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld laid a wreath at the memorial in the cemetery.

In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, two large bells were rung as the names of the 40 people killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in an open field were read.

President Bush and the first lady attended a prayer and remembrance service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington and observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. on the White House South Lawn.

Bush also marked the anniversary by delivering his weekly radio address live from the Oval Office, where he was joined by family members of September 11 victims.

"Three years ago, the struggle of good against evil was compressed into a single morning. In the space of only 102 minutes, our country lost more citizens than were lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor," Bush said. "Time has passed, but the memories do not fade. We remember the images of fire, and the final calls of love, and the courage of rescuers who saw death and did not flee."

Sen. John Kerry, Bush's presidential rival, also praised the victims and their families in the Democrats' response to the president's weekly speech.

"We are one America in our prayers for those who were taken from us on September 11th and for their families," Kerry said. "And we are one America in our unbending determination to defend our country, to find and get the terrorists before they get us."

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi also issued a statement of condolence not only for the victims of the September 11 attacks but also for all victims of terrorism.

"Three years ago, the hand of terrorism claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people at the World Trade Center in New York. Terrorism did not stop at its mean act but further wreaked havoc in several spots of the world, with no discrimination between one religion and another and one people and another," Allawi said.

U.S. Embassy officials in London also laid a wreath in honor of British victims of the attacks.


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