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.