NEW YORK (AP) -- The thousands killed on Sept. 11 will be honored where they died and across the nation on the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks Thursday, 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.
Nationwide, Americans will mark the day with reminders of life, death and peace.
Twisted pieces of steel hauled from the trade center ruins and shipped to other states for permanent memorials will serve as reminders of the disaster at remembrances from North Dakota to Florida. In New Mexico, for example, people will gather at a church where two steel beams from the trade center now form part of the bell tower.
White doves will be released in Toledo, Ohio, after a recitation of victims' names.
Scores of companies, large and small, are encouraging employees to spend the day doing good deeds - raising money, giving blood, and donating food and clothing at events in several cities.
Some hope the tradition will continue for years to come. One Day's Pay, a nonprofit organization, is seeking to establish Sept. 11 as an annual day of volunteer service.
From Delaware to California, fire departments planned processions and prayers to honor rescue workers who died in the assault. Motorcycle riders will raise money in Tampa, Fla., for the families of police officers, firefighters and U.S. Special Operations forces who have died in the war on terror.
``It helps bring people together and it helps us feel united,'' said Elaine Diaz, a spokeswoman for the fund-raiser.
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 twin towers.
Vice President Dick Cheney agreed not to attend the ceremony at the trade center site after Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was concerned the extra security would inconvenience relatives of the victims.
Instead, Bloomberg said he asked Cheney to 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 trade center attack. The agency is the owner of the trade center property.
Bloomberg, a Republican, said the vice president's security needs at the trade center site likely would have included special credentials and bag searches and it would have taken hours to grant access to relatives of the victims.
``It was intrusive on the families, and first and foremost, this event downtown at this site has to be for the families. They are coming to visit where their loved ones died,'' he said Wednesday.
Cheney's office said that the vice president would attend the afternoon Port Authority service. He is not scheduled to speak.
``The vice president is going to the ceremony to show the administration's respect and reverence to the people of New York,'' said his spokeswoman, Cathie Martin.
``The last thing we want to do is be disruptive of any remembrance ceremony that is occurring,'' said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
During the first anniversary of the attack last year, President Bush did not attend the main ceremony, but did visit the trade center site a few hours later. That evening, the president addressed the nation from Ellis Island.
When the children read the victims' names at ground zero on Thursday, Madilynn Morris' mother hopes Americans are watching and paying attention to their young, solemn faces. Madilynn's 35-year-old father was among the 658 employees of the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald who were killed the attack.
``Maybe people will think, `That could have been my kid standing up there,' and we'll continue the fight against terrorism so another child doesn't have to lose a parent,'' Lynn Morris said.
- Nation Readies to Honor 9/11's Victims
- Times of Sept. 11 Attack, WTC Collapse
- Ground Zero Turns to Kids on Anniversary
- Officers, Firefighters Prepare For Run To Remember
- UC Davis Releases Report On 'Ground Zero' Air Quality
- IAFF: Statement on Second Anniversary of 9/11 Tragedy
- Goldfeder: 9-11-01 ... Our Own AMNESIA
- Only 42 'Missing' From WTC Attack on 9-11
- Security Changes Instituted Since 9/11
- Judge Allows 9/11 Suits Against Airlines
- Small Sept. 11 Charity for Kids Thrives
- Communities Nationwide to Remember 9-11
- Remains Found on Scaffolding Thought to be of 9/11 Victim
- Relatives of 3 Retired NY Fire Heroes Fuming
- Miles Away, Texas Dept. Honors Brothers
- Massachusetts Families Grapple With Joining 9-11 Lawsuits
- Full 9/11 Coverage