MILITARY

At ground zero, Sept. 11 anniversary is now both private and public occasion

  • FILE- In this Sept. 11, 2014 file photo, David Pykon, right, and his fiancé Shelli Scrimale embrace while observing the 13th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center at the north pool of the memorial in New York. Pykon's brother, Edward Pykon, was killed during the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. 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. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

    FILE- In this Sept. 11, 2014 file photo, David Pykon, right, and his fiancé Shelli Scrimale embrace while observing the 13th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center at the north pool of the memorial in New York. Pykon's brother, Edward Pykon, was killed during the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. 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. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Sept. 11, 2014 file photo, visitors to the National September 11 Memorial take photos of and observe the Tribute in Light from the South Pool on the 13th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. After years of private ceremonies for victims’ relatives and survivors to mark Sept. 11 at ground zero, the anniversary now also has become an occasion for the general public to revisit and reflect on the site of the terror attacks. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

    FILE- In this Sept. 11, 2014 file photo, visitors to the National September 11 Memorial take photos of and observe the Tribute in Light from the South Pool on the 13th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. After years of private ceremonies for victims’ relatives and survivors to mark Sept. 11 at ground zero, the anniversary now also has become an occasion for the general public to revisit and reflect on the site of the terror attacks. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Sept. 11, 2014 file photo, the moon appears between the beams from the Tribute in Light memorial honoring the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as 1 World Trade Center, left, stands on the 13th anniversary as seen from Jersey City, N.J. The Tribute in Light, which first appeared on March 11, 2002, to mark the six months that had passed since the attacks. It has become a moving, quietly powerful element of the anniversaries since. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

    FILE- In this Sept. 11, 2014 file photo, the moon appears between the beams from the Tribute in Light memorial honoring the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as 1 World Trade Center, left, stands on the 13th anniversary as seen from Jersey City, N.J. The Tribute in Light, which first appeared on March 11, 2002, to mark the six months that had passed since the attacks. It has become a moving, quietly powerful element of the anniversaries since. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)  (The Associated Press)

After years as a private commemoration, the anniversary of Sept. 11 at ground zero now also has become an occasion for public reflection on the site of the terror attacks.

An estimated 20,000 people flocked to the memorial plaza on the evening of Sept. 11 last year. That was the first year the public was able to visit on the anniversary.

Now, the plaza will open at 3 p.m., three hours earlier, after Friday's 14th anniversary ceremony.

In the morning, victims' families will gather for a reading of the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror strike.

Observances are planned around the country, including at the two other places where hijacked planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001 — at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.