After being shaken by an earthquake and stirred by a hurricane in the last few weeks, it was a crane accident that finally forced the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to move its 9/11 commemoration events elsewhere.
Sunday, September 11th's "Concert for Hope," will still be attended by President Obama, but he will speak and take in performances by Alan Jackson and Patti LaBelle at a different venue: the Kennedy Center. Friday's "A Concert to Honor" will take place at the Kennedy Center as well, but will still feature Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, as well as the Marine Chamber Orchestra, and the United States Navy Band Sea Chanters.
The National Cathedral was forced to shut its doors after an earthquake in Mineral, VA caused minor structural damage August 23. Further damage was feared, but avoided, when Hurricane Irene blew through town just last week. And the crane that fell over on the National Cathedral's grounds was in place to stabilize debris that came loose during the earthquake. The accident damaged the gift shop on the grounds, as well as the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, but the Cathedral itself did not suffer a direct hit. The crane's operator was hurt, but has been released from the hospital.
"The safety of our visitors and the staff of the Cathedral is our top priority, and we will make no compromises when it comes to that responsibility," says Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III. "At the same time we will not let obstacles put in our way stop us from fulfilling our mission as the spiritual home for the nation."
The National Cathedral was the site of several significant historical events in the 20th century. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his last Sunday sermon there in 1968. A year later, in 1969, President Dwight D. Eisenhower's State funeral was held there. In 1956, President Woodrow Wilson's tomb there was dedicated.