NEW YORK – Television relived and reflected upon the terrorist attacks Wednesday, offering a national gathering place on a day of grief.
Most networks cast aside regular programming to show memorial services at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. A relentless roll call of victims' names was read in New York, as wind whipped the dust where the towers stood.
The shocking images of a year ago -- planes striking the World Trade Center, the smoldering towers and their eventual collapse -- were repeated again occasionally. Networks had resisted using them since the first few days after the attacks and had promised to use restraint on the anniversary.
Morning shows all contained a mix of somber interviews with relatives of victims, reminders of a year ago and stories about the increased alert about potential new attacks.
CBS' Dan Rather and NBC's Katie Couric were stationed on terraces overlooking ground zero.
"It was a day when thousands of lives were lost and thousands of heroes were born," Rather said in opening his broadcast.
NBC's Today show kept an ominous tick-tock recap of what was happening a year earlier, beginning with the moment hijacker Mohamed Atta boarded a plane in Portland, Maine. On ABC, Diane Sawyer explained how the lead story a year ago was Michael Jordan's return to basketball.
Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani made a tour of the morning shows, appearing live on NBC, ABC and CBS within 35 minutes.
Despite the uniformity of coverage, television executives were unsure how much of it -- if any -- Americans would want to watch. First lady Laura Bush advised parents to turn off the TV and read to their children instead, or light a memorial candle.
Commercials were notably absent, as advertisers wanted to stay away from the anniversary.
Except for public service announcements and promotions for their own programming, the network morning shows ran only one bought message: the same somber, black-and-white tribute to Sept. 11 victims prepared by Verizon.
Patriotic graphics -- a waving flag on Fox News Channel, a red, white and blue ribbon on MSNBC -- reappeared on many screens.
CNN used its news "crawl" on the bottom of its screen to list attack victims. ABC did the same with its Times Square ticker atop the Good Morning America studio, and the A&E Network displayed victims' names on a black screen.
As the victims' names were read at the memorial service, CBS showed pictures of most of them.
Some networks offered other options. Nickelodeon showed the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants on Wednesday morning, and TBS aired Little House on the Prairie. Comedy Central aired a Madonna movie, Who's That Girl?
The New York Times had a banner headline: "U.S. Steps Up Alert as Solemn Day Arrives" and ran nearly seven full pages of victims' pictures. The New York Post cover was a picture of the Trade Center towers and the headline, "Lest We Forget." The Washington Post headlined an increased terrorism threat.
On the Internet, banner ads at AOL Time Warner sites were replaced with pictures of candles and links to a site where visitors can learn of opportunities to give money, volunteer and remember.