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D.C.’s Churches, Museums Hold Sept. 11 Ceremonies

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(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Washingtonians and visitors to the capital were marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks that stunned the city with commemorations Sunday at museums, churches and ballparks.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History hosted a ceremony with the Transportation Security Administration and hundreds participated in a Freedom Walk at Arlington National Cemetery to support military families. Observances were also planned for a NFL game between the Giants and the Redskins, teams
from the two cities hit by the terrorist attacks.

An afternoon 9/11 Unity Walk event drew hundreds of people of all faiths to the Washington Hebrew Congregation, where Rabbi Bruce Lustig told the crowd that the Washington area has a strong interfaith bond among its many religious groups.

“The terrorists changed America on 9/11, but only we would determine how,” Lustig said. “We can choose hope over fear, light over darkness.”

Earlier in the day at the museum, former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta led a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. to mark the time the first plane struck one of the World Trade Center towers, and thanked those who have served in the TSA since the agency was created just 70 days after Sept. 11. The TSA has
screened more than 7 billion travelers and thwarted potential attacks, officials said.

As Mineta toured an exhibit of 9/11 objects at the museum, he recalled tracking the plane that would eventually slam into the Pentagon. He said he would always be grateful for the people on Flight 93 who stopped the plane from reaching a city, possibly to strike a political target in Washington.

Elizabeth Pero-Swingle, accompanied by her 5-year-old daughter, Sydney, visited the museum in her blue TSA uniform. The 32-year-old TSA officer at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport sang the national anthem for the ceremony. Ten years ago, Pero-Swingle was studying opera at an Arizona college. After 9/11, she felt a call to serve and joined TSA in 2005.

“I was just so thrilled to be part of the government, just to serve — period,” she said.

Albert Haywood, 60, of Detroit, also at the exhibit, said he wanted to be back in Washington for the anniversary because he had been working as a security director for the American Red Cross in the city when the attacks happened.

“The people who were actually here are going to appreciate this even more,” Haywood said of the exhibit. “And it’s good for the people that weren’t here too.”

At the Newseum, visitors lined the sidewalks outside the journalism museum to see the front pages of newspapers 10 years later. The Chicago Tribune ran the headline “We remember,” with a photograph of the smoldering New York site from Sept. 12, 2001. The front page from The Arizona Republic featured memories from readers summed up in six words, such as: “Angry that they changed my life,” and “Began: United Police States of America.”

At the Arlington National Cemetery, several hundred people participated in a Freedom Walk sponsored by Operation Homefront, which supports military families.

Lea Pfeifer, 37, of Falls Church, Va., took part in the walk with her husband, Eric, and their 2-year-old son. “I will never forget my experience that morning,” Pfeifer said. “I think we carry that horror with us every day.”

Vivian Dietrich of Leesburg, who helped organize the Freedom Walk, said the cemetery was the perfect place to commemorate 9/11 and recognize the service of those who gave their lives for their country.

“When you walk in here, you realize each headstone has its story,” Dietrich said.

Dietrich’s husband worked at the Pentagon when it was hit 10 years ago. “I sat there knowing full well that it was his office building that had been hit.” Her husband survived and later served in Iraq.

Images from the cemetery, including a live performance of “Taps,” were to be presented Sunday afternoon during NFL games, including the Giants-Redskins game.

Before that game, family members affected by the plane that struck the Pentagon and players from both teams were to help hold an American flag, covering the entire field, as the national anthem was sung.

Robin Berretta, wearing a Giants jersey, came from New York for the game. She said she had friends who suggested she shouldn’t come.

“They thought it was going to get bombed. Everyone’s very paranoid,” Berretta said. “And they’re not even from New York.”

Berretta was unfazed.

“I even took the Metro,” she said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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