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Remembering 9/11; New Security Concern in New York

Aired September 11, 2011 - 10:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: "Amazing Grace," very familiar song down here and in many parts. A haunting tune.

We want to go to Shanksville because our next moment of silence is coming up shortly. Remember, at this time, 10 years ago, we didn't know how many planes were in the air. We just knew that there were planes.

We want to go down to our John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And Candy, we're here in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, approaching - just a minute away now from - you mentioned where we were 10 years ago. We didn't know how many planes.

One of them was in the skies over Pennsylvania. It had been over Ohio. It was redirected by the hijackers and it was over Pennsylvania.

They've just now tolled the bells and read the names of the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93 that came down in this field in a fireball at precisely 10:03. We will get there in just a moment and have a moment of silence for those heroes who changed history.

The hijackers wanted to take that plane to Washington, D.C. Later the government came to the conclusion they wanted to fly it through the Capitol Dome and deliver yet another blow to a symbol of American power. Instead, heroes aboard that plane decided they would change history after hearing on air phones, from their relatives, what was happening in the country.

Let us pause now, listen to a moment of silence in honor of the 40 heroes of Flight 93 who changed history.


KING: Choir singing here at Shanksville, Pennsylvania for a moment of silence to honor the 40 heroes of Flight 93.

Vice President Biden here yesterday said they knew - the people on that plane knew they were giving up their own lives to save the lives of others. They didn't know where, but they gave up their own lives.

President Bush called it the first counterattack in the war on terrorism.

The vice president now at the Pentagon ceremony. Let's go back there live.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE) - he was a wonderful dancer. I'll never be able to dance with anyone else. He was a perfect partner and, above all, he was a good, caring and loving man.

And so, so many others are remembered this morning with the moments of silence in small towns and bustling cities all across this country. But nowhere are the memories more immediate, more vivid, more compelling, more real than in New York City; Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and right here in Northern Virginia, at the Pentagon.

Although words cannot ease the pain of these losses, paying tribute by recalling not just the horror of that day, but the heroism as well, can hopefully give you some comfort and stiffen the resolve of this nation.

At 9:36 A.M., thousands of patriotic Americans are going about their daily business in the building behind me, in this great citadel of our national defense. And, one minute later, 9:37, an unconscionable tragedy struck.

But what happened - what happened after that was far more remarkable than the damage inflicted in the building behind me. Those who worked in this building, many of you in front of me, and thousands more first responders across the region - firefighters from Arlington County, Fairfax County, Montgomery County, the District of Columbia, and many others - they sprang to action, risking their lives so their friends, their colleagues and total strangers, people they had never met, might live.

From corporals to cafeteria workers, right up the chain of command, the top brass, the Secretary Rumsfeld, who I pay special tribute to today. I understand he's here. Secretary Rumsfeld himself did what he did as a young soldier, a young man, and did all his life. You and he and others streamed into the breach between the Fourth and Fifth Corridors, where the devastation was the greatest, where death came in an instant, but also where there were some survivors to be found.

Specialist Beau Doboszenski (ph) was tour guide that morning, in the far side of the building, so far away, in fact, he never heard the plane hit, but he surely felt the commotion. He could have gone home. No one would have blamed him.

But he was also a trained EMT, and came from a family of firefighters. So when people started streaming out of the building and screaming, he sprinted toward the crash site. For hours, he altered between treating his co-workers and dashing into the inferno with a team of six men.

Micky Fyock, a volunteer fire chief in Woodsboro, Maryland, 60 miles away. After working all day, and when he heard that evening that the rescue workers of the Pentagon needed a fire truck, a small fire truck, small enough to fit through tight places, he knew he had a '54 Mack, which is the smallest one around.

So, fresh off of an all-day shift, he barreled down the highway and battled the blaze all night with thousands of others. And, at dawn, exhausted and covered with soot, 14 hours on the job, he sat on a bench and confronted a man, a man who he said was wondering aloud, "Why am I still alive? For had I not been at the dentist, I would have been in the office, my office, totally destroyed, with my colleagues gone. Why me?"

It's a basic American instinct, to respond to crises when help is needed, to confront the afflicted. An American instinct summoned by the collective strength of the American people that we see come to the fore in our darkest hours. An instinct that echoes through the ages, from Pearl Harbor to Beirut, from Mogadishu to Ground Zero, to Flight 93 to right here in the Pentagon.

Those in this building that day knew what they were witnessing. It was a declaration of war by stateless actors bent on changing our way of life, who believed these horrible acts - these horrible acts of terror, directed against innocents, could buckle our knees, could bend our will, could begin to break us and break our resolve.

But, they did not know us. Instead, that same American instinct that sent all of you into the breach between the Fourth and Fifth Corridors, galvanized an entire new generation of patriots - the 9/11 generation. Many of them were just kids on that bright September morning. Well, like their grandparents on December 7, 1941, they courageously bore the burden that history had placed on their shoulders. And, as they came of age, they showed up. They showed up to fight for their country, and they're still showing up.

Two million, eight hundred thousand of that 9/11 generation moved to join our military since the attacks on 9/11, to finish the war begun here that day. And they joined - they joined knowing that they were in all likelihood going to be deployed in harm's way, in many cases, deployed multiple, multiple times in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other dangerous parts of the world.

Those of you, admirals (ph) who command this building, turned this generation, this 9/11 generation, into the finest group of warriors the world has ever known. Over a decade of war, they pioneered new tactics, mastered new languages, developed and employed advanced new technologies.

They took on responsibilities once reserved only to those with considerably more seniority, responsibilities that extended beyond the base or the battlefield, to the politics of Afghanistan, to the politics of Iraq, to the economies of those countries, and to the development tasks that ultimately lay the groundwork for us to leave behind stable countries that will not threaten us. And along with the intelligence community and the law enforcement community, they relentlessly took the fight to al Qaeda and its affiliates.

They were prepared to follow Bin Laden to hell's gate, if necessary, and they got him. My God, do we owe those special ops folks and intelligence guys who got him, many of whom have subsequently lost their lives. But we will not stop - you will not stop until al Qaeda - until al Qaeda is not only disrupted, but completely dismantled and ultimately destroyed.

And one more thing about this 9/11 generation of warriors, never before in our history has America asked so much over such a sustained period of an all-volunteer force. So I can say, without fear of contradiction or being accused of exaggeration, the 9/11 generation ranks among the greatest our nation has ever produced. And it was born, it was born, it was born right here on 9/11.

And, as the Admiral said, that generation has paid an incredible price - 4,478 fallen angels in Iraq; 1,648 in Afghanistan; and more than 40,000 wounded in both countries, some of whom require care and support the rest of their lives. Having visited multiple times, like many of you, I am awed, not only by their capability, but their sacrifices today and every day.

The terrorists who attacked the Pentagon, as Leon said, sought to weaken America by shattering this defining symbol of our military might and prowess. But they failed. And they also failed for another reason, not just physically fail. They failed because they continued to fundamentally misunderstand us as they misunderstood us on that day, for the true source of American power does not lie within that building. As Americans, we draw our strength from the rich tapestry of our people, just looking at the people before me, looking at the families before me. The true legacy of 9/11 is that our spirit is mightier, the bonds that unite us are thicker, and the resolve is firmer than the millions of tons of limestone and concrete that make up that great edifice behind me.

Al Qaeda and Bin Laden never imagined that the 3,000 people who lost their lives that day would inspire the million to put on the uniform, and harden the resolve of 300 million Americans. They never imagined the sleeping giant they were about to awaken. They never imagined these things because they did not understand what enables us, what has always enabled us to withstand any test that comes our way.

But you understood. You knew better than anyone, because you knew every time this nation has been attacked, you, particularly who wear the uniform, every time this nation is attacked, you knew it only emboldens us to stand up and to strike back.

But your family members, you also knew something else that a lot of us didn't know that day. And your loved ones, those who you lost, who we now call heroes, were already heroes. They were heroes to you.

They were the father that tucked you in at night. They were the wife who knew your fears, even before you expressed them. They were the brother who lifted you up. They were the daughter who made you laugh. And the son who made you proud.

I know. I know in my heart. And so do all the people on this stage know, that they are absolutely irreplaceable. Absolutely irreplaceable. As the speaker heard me say yesterday in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, no memorial, no ceremony, no words will ever fill the void left in your hearts by their loss. My prayer for you is that, 10 years later, when you think of them, 10 years later, when you think of them, it brings a smile on your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.

My mom used to say that courage lies in every man's heart, and her expectation was that one day, one day it would be summoned. Well here, on September 11th, 2001, at exactly 9:37 A.M. it was summoned. It was summoned from the hearts of the thousands of people who worked here to save hundreds. It was summoned in the hearts of all those first responders who answered the call. For courage lies deepest in and beats the loudest in the heart of Americans.

Don't forget it. We will not forget them.

May God bless you all, may God bless America, and, most of all, may God protect our troops.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: The vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, remembering the 184 people that were killed by those five terrorists on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon on exactly - exactly 10 years ago. As I said before, the youngest victim here at the Pentagon was three years old; the oldest, 71 years old.

An emotional, powerful statement by the vice president, recalling the heroism of what he described as the 9/11 generation.

You're looking at U.S. military personnel. They're honoring those 184 people who were killed on this very day, 10 years ago, at this memorial, this Pentagon memorial, where the bench is. They're laying wreaths in honor of each of those 184 victims.

We'll continue to watch what's happening here at the Pentagon. We're also watching what's happening at that memorial service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and, of course, at the World Trade Center in New York.

Let's go back to New York right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, thousands of family members continue to stream into the - the World Trade site here, so many of them just heading immediately towards the - the pools in both the - the imprint of the North Tower and the South Tower, where they're laying flowers. We've seen a lot of roses being left by the names of family members, a lot of young children putting a piece of paper over the name of their - their father, their uncle, their mother, their aunts, scratching a pen - a piece of pencil - a pencil over - over the names, the names etched in bronze around the - the reflecting pools.

Shortly at 10 - well, in about eight minutes from now, there will be another moment of silence as the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 A.M. Before we - we bring you that, and we'll of course bring that to you and - and honor that moment of silence. Also we'll then hear from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and then Paul Simon will be singing "Bridge Over Troubled Waters."

We want to get just a quick update on the security threats as we know them now. Susan Candiotti has been making calls this morning. Susan, what are you hearing?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, just to give you an idea, Anderson, of how tight the security is and how ramped up everyone is, we have a report from the New York Police Department now that they're looking - they're on the lookout for someone who is described as an emotionally disturbed person, a former Army Vet who served - rather a former veteran who served in Afghanistan who they were alerted to by his parents from the Carolinas. Said that he's in the area, they believe he may be a danger to himself and that, in fact, he may be heading to Ground Zero.

Now, this is something that might not necessarily raise much attention but, on a day like this, it is.

Along with that, of course, investigators continue to work around the clock to try to nail down that terror threat that is still out there that is now four days old, trying to determine one way or another this credible threat, that three people might be heading to New York or Washington to carry out some kind of an attack on or about this anniversary using either a car bomb or a truck bomb or some other means. They have not been able to confirm it as yet, but this is something that they're working on.

They're looking for partial names, information coming from an al Qaeda operative through a communication that was caught up by intelligence agents and tracked down. They're working on it, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Susan will continue to be making calls, checking with her sources throughout this morning as we continue to watch this.

We're here with John Miller, also Ari Fleischer. Just coming up shortly Fran Townsend will be with us. I'm here with Candy Crowley.

I mean, in terms of safety, this is probably one of the - the safest areas in the world right now. This - Lower Manhattan is locked down.

ARI FLEISCHER, WITH PRESIDENT BUSH ON 9/11: Anderson, I always said to myself that I was in the most targeted spot on earth when I was with the president, but I was also on the safest spot on earth. That's the way I feel today.

There are plenty of people who want to target this event today, but this is also probably one of the safest spots to be. Just getting down here was so hard, all the checkpoints I had to go through. Anybody has to go through that. They're not letting any cars or trucks anywhere close to the area. COOPER: This is obviously an international event and people watching us around the world on CNN International. There were many victims from all around the world who was - who were working in the World Trade Center at the time, on 9/11.

What do you think the message of this is today for those around the world that maybe who wants to do America harm? What do you think they should thing while watching what are (INAUDIBLE)

FLEISCHER: I thought the message of today, from September 11 forward, and I still feel it right now, is the strength of America. The unity of this country, the fact that we have gone through adversity before, and whatever divisions we have as a people, they don't compare to the strengths we have as our unity.

That's what I remember about the days after September 11 and what - when the moment calls for it, this country is instantly unified and one.

COOPER: And John, from a security standpoint, how do you think we have changed in the last 10 years?

JOHN MILLER, ASSOC. DEP. DIR., NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS: Well, we made enormous advances. That's doubtless. We have more intelligence on the adversary, we don't wait for the fight to be brought to us. Between what happens with the U.S. Military and Special Forces, the intelligence community and law enforcement, I mean, we are bringing the fight to the terrorists.

And if you look at the number of plots disrupted, we used to have an average of four plots a year after 9/11, targeting U.S. soil -

COOPER: Credible plots?

MILLER: Credible plots, that actually involved people who had a plan and so on. You know, in 2008, 2009, that jumped to nine, and then 10, and then 11.

So we're seeing - we're seeing a lot more of the terrorist message actually resonating through the Internet, with the so-called lone wolves and things like that. But we're - we've got a near 100 percent record of detection and prevention. That wouldn't have happened before.

FLEISCHER: When I spoke to President Bush on Friday, he said to me, one of the things that he's very grateful for is so much of the infrastructure that was put in place - indefinite detention, wireless wiretaps, things of that nature - have been left behind and are still being carried out. He cited the predator strikes attacks that President Obama has continued and accelerated as all good signs that these are now bipartisan actions to keep America protected.

COOPER: The number of predator attacks has risen dramatically just in the - in the last two years, and - to remarkably successful in terms of decapitating the - the top leadership of al Qaeda. FLEISCHER: Well, I think that's what John means when he says we're on the offensive. It's very hard to plan and have a meeting when you always have to worry about what's in the sky that may listen to me or get me. And that keeps them on the run.

MILLER: If you look at just the - just recent history, you know, you have the decision not to make the Bin Laden capture a predator strike, but to go in and get him, which was I think a tactical decision, the right decision.

But, before that Ilyas Kashmiri, shortly after that, al Qaeda's key planning chief - we've got a tee up to Rahman and a drone strike, the guy who ran day to day operations; al Mauritani, the guy in charge of external operations. So the drone strikes have made being the number two or the number three in al Qaeda the briefest position in - on earth to hold.

CROWLEY: I want to bring in our Fran Townsend, a CNN contributor on Homeland Security, also adviser, obviously, to president - former President Bush when he was in the White House on Homeland Security.

Fran, for all this talk and I - I don't think I've met anyone in - in your business that hasn't said, oh, we're much safer now. But now the nature of the threat is different, where people see not an organizational big bang, if you will, attack from al Qaeda, but these lone wolves who are either inspired by or loosely linked to various people. And is not that threat something that you can't always - you can't be 100 percent right on that?

I talked to General Haden - a man that you know very well - who said he doesn't think the next attack is an "if," it's a "when."

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, FORMER BUSH HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: No, that's right. I mean, as you know, those are the hardest to detect. And so, as al Qaeda core gets fractured, you do worry about these lone wolves, and they're very hard to detect.

COOPER: And we'll certainly talk a lot more about that.

Our attention now coming up on the moment of silence at - it should be at 10:28, the moment when the North Tower fell, the second tower to fall. A sign for so many that this country would never be the same. Let's listen.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR: The perspective that we need and have needed to get through the last 10 years and the years that remain are best expressed by the words of God, as inscribed in the Book of Ecclesiastes. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to win and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away; a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silenced and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace."

God bless every soul that we lost. God bless the family members who have to endure that loss. And God guide us to our reunion in heaven and God bless the United States of America.

DEBRA EPPS, BROTHER DIED AT WORLD TRADE CENTER: Good morning. My name is Debra Epps.

It has been 10 years, and it feels like it just happened yesterday. My brother Christopher Epps worked on the 98th floor in the North Tower. Not one holiday, birthday has gone by that my four sisters and my brother and I don't think about him. Our mother never takes off her necklace with his picture in it.

Something I have learned over the past 10 years is that people come forward to help you in your time of need. And today we thank you the people of our great nation, family, friends and neighbors.

At work, Christopher sat next to his good friend, Wayne Russo. The Russo Family has made a special request that their son's name be placed next to my mother's - brother's name. That meant so much to our family.

What I know now is that the forces of good are not just in movies. It's all around us. People really do catch you when you fall. It's been a blessing. Christopher would have loved knowing that the love he freely gave to others was given back to us in his name.

Thank you and I bid you God's speed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kevin James Haniford, Sr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Lawrence Hannon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christine Lee Hanson.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vassilios G. Haramis.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gerald Francis Hardacre.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeffrey Pike Harding.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melissa Marie Harrington.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my husband, Port Authority Police Officer Tom Gorman. Tom, Bridget, Patrick, Laura, myself, your soon- to-be granddaughter keep you in our hearts every day. Your family and friends miss you, love you, miss your laughter, your smile and your meatloaf.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my dad, who I'm happy to honor today, a good, kind, godly man, Winston Arthur Grant.



COOPER: For so many of the family members, this is really the - the only place they will have where there is sort of a physical remembrance of their loved one. Many of them never got any remains back.

CROWLEY: More than 1,100 known victims from these Twin Towers there's been no remains found. But they have 900 pieces of remains. I'm not even sure.

We're joined by Sanjay Gupta who can probably help us with this. That they're still looking and trying to find something identifiable -


CROWLEY: -- for the victims' families. But for many of them, 1,100 folks died and there's no remains of them. So there really are - this is the one sort of place they can come where they are, sort of. There's nothing to have buried, nothing to have commemorated.

GUPTA: There was such a process that, you know, was wholly unique at that time. Because there had been nothing quite like this where it was impossible to find remains. And they had to do the very, very discouraging and difficult task of scouring through all these different, you know, piles of dust looking for any DNA, anything that was an absolute, you know, evidence that someone had actually, you know, had died there.

But as you say, a lot of times they simply did not find it. And even in the dust they've collected over the years, they've looked at that dust as well and not found evidence of DNA in much of that. So I don't know that there's going to be an answer or any final resolution you may be looking at (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: There's also now a huge concern over the - the health implications of this dust and what impact its had on those first responders who, you know, not just on 9/11, but for weeks after and months after were working on what was then called the pile.

GUPTA: Right.

COOPER: It was interesting. There was just a study out by "The Lancet" which looked at New York City firefighters which determined there was an increased cancer risk - an increased cancer incidences among firefighters.

GUPTA: No question about it. And I think - this is - you know, we've been investigating this for a year. And it's wildly controversial. We started to dug into it, because there's a (INAUDIBLE) bill out there that covers lots of things, everything from carpet tunnel syndrome, the respiratory things. But cancer has always been off the list even as recent (INAUDIBLE) decided again to be off the list.

But this paper is significant for two reasons. One is that, first of all, the fact that they say it's biologically plausible that this dust over here which I have some of it.

COOPER: This is actual dust.

GUPTA: This is actual World Trade Center dust. The researchers at Rutgers University collected this dust. They wanted to analyze it and find out what was in it. And they found it was a unique amalgamation of chemicals.

But they've been studying this. And what they have found is that it's biologically plausible that this could cause cancer that was something different in this new study versus before. Also, they did see an increased cancer risk, 19 percent increased cancer risk among firefighters who were exposed as compared to firefighters who were not.

Now, 10 years, as you know, is still an early time. And so they can take 20 years, it can take 30 years for cancers to develop. So the fact that they've shown it now could be the beginning of the -

COOPER: And that does has - I mean, researchers have never seen anything like it, the composition of that dust.

GUPTA: Yes. That's right. I mean, you know, when you had the - when you had what happened on that day, you had a sudden thrusting together of all these various chemicals, so everything from titanium to benzene to jet fuel all sort of put together and you saw it in the air. And then it sort of coated onto the dust which remained like a mist over the city for some time.

COOPER: And I'm just looking at it now and there - it's an incredibly fine powder. GUPTA: It is. And you know, we've got it sealed. They took special precautions. And as they say, this is perfectly fine to transport it this way. But it is. And, you know, there's still concern that if people breathe it in, what would happen with their bodies, respiratory problems and then potentially other problems after that.

CROWLEY: But this study was about firefighters in particular.

GUPTA: That's correct. Yes.

CROWLEY: So we see so many pictures of that day where people - where this huge wall of dust where people are running from it. It looks like a sci-fi movie.

GUPTA: That's right.

CROWLEY: That's what you'd believe it was. And then people covered in it. Literally they look like clay statues almost.

So is there - are there studies being done on the risk to those people who maybe had a 12-hour exposure?

GUPTA: Right. There are studies being done. Now, the problem is, and this comes up constantly with the (INAUDIBLE) and other forms of researches, is that you don't know, did those people have any health problems before they were suddenly exposed to all this dust? And I know you may say, well, look, people know if they're going to be - if they were sick before or not, but it's not that easy.

The significance of the Firefighter Study is that all these firefighters have been screened for 10 years at least before 9/11/2001. So they had data. They knew what the chest x-rays look like. They knew what the blood work look like. And then they could compare those same people after the exposure to dust.

It's very hard to do that in a general population, which is why oftentimes it just not answers to questions that we think are obvious, smoking and lung cancer took over 20 years to develop that cause and effect relationship. So you can imagine how difficult it is to do with this dust.

CROWLEY: And there are practical reasons why it's important to know for the firefighters.

GUPTA: I think this is very important. Because there's obviously a lot of people who have cancer now. You've heard from them today who say I'm convinced that it's because of the dust. Or I'm convinced my loved one died of cancer because of the dust.

What is I think more important and that even are people who are exposed who hear about the study and then go get their screenings, go do something about it. So they can prevent developing some of these just awful problems that they've seen their fellow firefighters, fellow first responders, police department officers go through.

COOPER: And you're going to - just in case anybody is wondering at home, that dust, you're going to return to researchers?

GUPTA: That's right. And, I mean, this is still considered sacred material, for all the reasons we're talking about. We know - I mean, it's a compilation of so many different things.

But, yes, this is going to go back to a place where they're storing this, and families, victims of 9/11 can sometimes go visit this particular room to look at this. Because, it's almost thankfully but honestly it's one of the few reminders still of what happened on that day, so -

CROWLEY: Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much for coming by.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Appreciate it.

Up next, as we continue to follow the emotional events in all three cities, we want to take a look at the Sacred 16 Acres where we're now sitting and the city that's seen its share of tragedy just this year and how some New Yorkers are using this day to help them heal.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other tower just collapsed! We need to go out. We need to go out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be advised we have numerous injured people on board, babies -


COOPER: And the reading of the names continues here at the World Trade Center Memorial as family members, many of whom still waiting to get in to visit the name of their loved one that's etched in bronze around two large reflecting pools in the footprint of both of the towers looking at where the South Tower once stood. There's the south reflecting pool and then the north one now just coming into view.

The Twin Towers were obviously iconic parts of this city's skyline. And the 16 acres that comprise the entire World Trade Center site also contained other high-rise buildings. Subway and commuter train stations, even a huge underground shopping mall. We took it all for granted until 9/11.

Every time we look toward Lower Manhattan now, there's that blank space in the skyline, a horrible void. And as New York buildings go, the towers were fairly new. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): New Yorkers have been talking about building a World Trade Center for 20 years before ground was broken on Manhattan's Lower West Side on August 5th, 1966. Older buildings had to be demolished. The North Tower started going up in 1968, the South Tower five months later.

The first tenants moved in in 1970, even before construction finished on the upper floors. Ribbon cutting was in 1973. The Towers were full of innovations. At 110 stories, they were the tallest buildings in the world, at least for a little while. Each floor was about an acre of open space, their weight distributed between a central core and steel columns in the building's outer skin.

High-speed express elevators and sky lobbies on the 44th and 78th floors made getting to the top quick and efficient. The complex even had its own zip code, 10048. Iconic additions to Manhattan's skyline, the World Trade Center never stopped attracting attention.

In 1974, a daredevil tightrope walker crossed a steel cable strung between the towers, not just once, but eight times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is somebody out there on a tightrope walk between the Two Towers of the World Trade Center right at tippy top.

COOPER: But as the years went by, The Towers, symbols of a city, a country and a way of life also became a focal point for hatred.

In February 1993, a van packed with explosives was detonated in a parking garage under the North Tower. Six people died and about 1,000 were hurt. Islamic extremists behind the attack, were rounded up, tried as criminals, convicted and sent to prison.

But the international terrorists who inspired them kept plotting and struck on that crystal clear morning in 2001.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A plane has crashed into one of the Towers of the World Trade Center.

COOPER: It took eight months for bodies to be recovered and for a million tons of twisted steel and concrete to be cleared away.

Plans for new an even taller skyscraper were revealed quickly and changed repeatedly to make it stronger and safer. The new One World Trade Center will have a reinforced center core, extra fireproofing, biochemical filters and even green technology.

Groundbreaking for the Main Tower, One World Trade Center took place in 2006.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to soar to new heights and reclaim the New York skyline with this magnificent symbol of our freedom.

COOPER: Today this still unfinished tower just pokes above the skyline on its way to becoming the country's tallest skyscraper, 1,776 feet at the tip of its antenna, matching the year of U.S. Independence, 1776.


COOPER: That is, of course, One World Trade. Formerly it was called Freedom Tower, but now it's One World Trade.

The new tower is supposed to be finished in 2013. Thanks to the folks at, we can show you exactly how much progress construction workers have made in the last seven years. Take a look at this amazing time lapsed video. This is seven years of time lapsed video showing what's going on in the one of the future World Trade site. cameras on the rooftop of the Millennium filtered (ph) about 58 floors up. Let's watch this.

We're awaiting President Obama's arrival in Shanksville, Pennsylvania later after Tom Hanks and boat captains who took part to look back on the rescue effort to save half million people trapped here in Manhattan after the towers fell.


TOM HANKS, ACTOR (voice-over): Hundreds of boats converged on the city, leaving the sun bathed harbor behind them. Dead ahead, the unknown.




AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: As hundreds of patients are being brought in and being treated, we cannot tell you - we would not even begin to guess how - what the numbers in this will be, how many people have died by the time - by the time this day is over, how many injuries have taken place.


COOPER: That was being reported at this moment 10 years ago today. That was Aaron Brown of CNN on air at the time.

Each year around September 11th, Jeff Parness - Parness and his volunteers go to a disaster stricken community to help them rebuild. It's their way of saying thank you to the cities that provided help to New York after the 2001 terrorist attacks. His group has become the custodian of the national 9/11 flag which was damaged at the World Trade Center site. People in all 50 states are helping to stitch the flag back together.

Jeff has been nominated as a CNN hero for his efforts. And today, he's in Joplin, Missouri, which obviously was devastated by a tornado last May. Jeff, for you being in Joplin on this day 10 years after what happened here in New York, what's this day like for you?

JEFF PARNESS, FOUNDER & EXEC. DIR. NEW YORK SAYS THANK YOU FDN.: You know, it's a beautiful day. We can't let terrorists claim this day and we should claim it for all the kindness and the humanity, the volunteer spirit that brought all Americans together, not just on 9/11, but especially on 9/12, to have all the folks in Joplin hold the national 9/11 flag here at their Ground Zero, it just reminds us we're all in this together.

COOPER: And what was it - I mean, 9/11 really changed your life. You embarked on this - on this whole idea. When did you come up with the idea of the foundation?

PARNESS: You know, it was my 5-year-old son Evan. He'd seen stories on CNN about the California wildfires back in 2003 and told me he wanted to send his toys to the kids across country. We drove a truck from New York to San Diego filled with relief supplies with a big sign that says New York Says Thank You. It was my way of paying personal homage to my friend, Hagay Shefi, who was killed in the towers.

I wanted to make a bigger statement that New Yorkers would never forget that people from small towns all around the country, all around the world did for us in our time of need.

Just a couple of months later, Evan was still 5, he's watching the Weather Channel and asked me, Dad, when Josh and I grew up, can we drive the truck if there was a tornado in Iowa?

Today, New York Says Thank You is probably one of the biggest volunteer organizations using the 9/11 anniversary, not just to rebuild building, but to rebuild hope and spirits of folks in Joplin and to just through actions - through positive actions let folks know that today is our day. Today's the day when we're going to act, when we're going to volunteer, when we're going to go out of our way to be in places like Joplin Missouri to say we'll never forget, not just what happened on 9/11, but more importantly what happened on 9/12.

COOPER: So you hope that - that this anniversary and the anniversaries in the years to come are not just days of remembrance where people stay at home. You really hope they are days of action where people go into communities -

PARNESS: Absolutely.

COOPER: -- and reach out to others?

PARNESS: Absolutely. I mean, that's the best indication of who we are, to celebrate that kindness and humanity and compassion. Take up a shovel and hand a bottle of water.