NEW YORK - The thousands killed on Sept. 11 will be honored where they died and across the nation on the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks today, with cities falling silent, names read aloud, wreaths laid and bells tolling for the dead.
Two years to the minute after hijackers crashed American Flight 11 into the World Trade Center's north tower, victims' relatives and dignitaries will pause in silence at ground zero. In Washington, President Bush will observe the 8:46 a.m. moment on the South Lawn of the White House.
At the trade center, on a stage near where the north tower once stood, 200 children will take turns reading the 2,792 names of people lost in the attack.
"I thought it would be a good way to honor my dad, and to honor the other people," said 11-year-old Madilynn Morris, who will recite 14 names, ending with her father, Seth Allan Morris.
The reading will pause at three other moments - the crash of United Flight 175 into the south tower, the skyscraper's collapse an hour later, and the collapse of the north tower about 30 minutes after that.
At the Pentagon, officials and families will mark with silence the moment another hijacked jet slammed into the Defense Department headquarters. The 9:37 a.m. crash killed 125 people on the ground and 59 on the plane.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will attend a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery in the morning, followed by a flag presentation at the Pentagon.
About 30 minutes after the Pentagon commemoration, bells will toll in rural communities in southwestern Pennsylvania to mark the time that the fourth hijacked plane plunged into a field there, killing all 40 passengers and crew.
During the ground zero reading in New York, families will descend a ramp into the seven-story pit that was the trade center basement, and place flowers on the bedrock.
The trade center program - similar to last year's three-hour memorial - will include readings by family members, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, his successor, Michael Bloomberg, and the governors of New York and New Jersey. Following last year's practice, speeches will be limited.
A children's chorus will sing several songs, concluding the ceremony with America the Beautiful. As the sun sets, two beams pointing skyward will be switched on, invoking the image of the towers.
Bloomberg said Wednesday he asked Vice President Dick Cheney not to attend the city's ceremony because Cheney's security would have "inconvenienced" family members of victims.
Instead, Cheney will attend a memorial service later in the day for the 84 employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who were killed during the attack.
In Florida, Gov. Jeb Bush ordered flags on state property to be lowered to half-staff today.On TV
News organizations planned lower-key coverage of the second anniversary of the attacks.
ABC - Good Morning America will revisit family members who lost loved ones.
Also during the program, the network plans to air the only known video footage of both planes hitting the World Trade Center. The tape was shot by an immigrant construction worker who had been making a sightseeing tape for a friend, and its existence was not widely known until reported in the New York Times on Sunday. ABC News, which thought last week it was getting the rare footage for free, paid for its use, though it would not disclose how much.
CBS - On The Early Show, Harry Smith reports from ground zero.
CNN - Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien anchor a special edition of American Morning from CNN's New York bureau rooftop and from ground zero. Guests include former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki to discuss how the city is rebuilding. Starting at 8:30 a.m., CNN plans live coverage of memorials at the World Trade Center site and Pentagon.
Details of NBC's plans were not available.