NEW YORK – As the morning of Sept. 11 broke with the sounds of anthems, prayers, and choked-back tears, a nation that has spent a year in mourning looked back on tragedy and forward to the future.
The one-year anniversary was filled with painstakingly planned memorials, presidential visits and uninterrupted television coverage. But the question on many minds was: How will this day be marked in the years to come?
Claudia Needham, 64, a retired health care administrator from Southern Pines, N.C., said she would like to return to New York on Sept. 11 each year to pay her respects.
"Being here ... I feel like I’m a part of it, of honoring those who died," she said. "Watching it on TV from home is nothing like being here."
Needham said she would also like to see events like the bagpipe processionals and the reading of the names of those who perished at the World Trade Center repeated each year.
Mitsuru Tsukamoto said the ceremonies should be toned down in years to come. "We all need to go forward," said the 37-year-old, who moved from New York City to Tokyo two years ago and had not returned until this week.
Sitting on a bench facing lower Manhattan’s skyline, Tsukamoto gazed out toward the Ground Zero site and talked about the future. "Every time people feel bad about Sept. 11, it is giving the terrorists more points." And shutting down roads, closing schools and skipping work is the wrong way to honor the day, he maintained.
Kaid Zanta, who owns a restaurant in the Atlantic Avenue area of Brooklyn that is home to many Middle Eastern businesses, said he hopes education will be a mainstay of future Sept. 11 commemorations.
"It should be talked about in schools, but without getting religion involved," he said. "Teach kids what the terrorists did … when they grow up they need to know what happened."
Another New York parent, Haifa Nouaime, 31, would like to see more simple commemorations. "I would mark the day by a moment of silence in the morning and have a simple ceremony. Going about the day as normal is marking the day in itself, not giving (terrorists) too much attention … they did affect us, but they did not destroy us."
Others worried about what would come next in America's continuing war on terror.
"I think the war effort is just coasting along now," Needham said. "No one knows where Usama bin Laden is. He’s fallen through the cracks."
Needham said she opposed military action against Iraq unless there is "concrete proof they’re going to bomb us." Going after Saddam Hussein would become "another wild goose chase," she said.
Asked about his desire to take the war against terrorism into Iraq, and specifically whether he has decided whether the military solution is the only answer for Iraq, President Bush told reporters to wait until his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
"Terrorists are not a country to fight," said Zanta. "They’re like cockroaches -- everywhere -- and you have to use the right poison." The U.S.-led war against terror must continue, he said. "When the U.S. sneezes the whole world gets the flu. Everyone should be behind the U.S."
Whatever their views on the war against terror, many of those who spoke on the blustery New York day spoke with confidence about never forgetting, and moving forward.
"The best way to memorialize the day for the years to come," said Zanta, "is to rebuild the towers."