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Low-Key Memorials Mark 9/11 Anniversary

Congressional leaders will gather on the East Front steps of the Capitol this morning to observe the 11th anniversary of 9/11, the same site where Members gathered on the day of the attacks to sing “God Bless America.”

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Members of Congress will gather on the steps at 11 a.m. to honor the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93, which crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa.

Buildup to this year’s anniversary is starkly different than last year’s, when a flurry of media outlets extensively covered the lives of the victims’ families a decade after the attacks and thousands of Americans all over the country paused to reflect and mourn at memorial services.

Less than 24 hours before the observances were set to begin, marking the time the planes began hitting their targets, there were scant mentions of the anniversary on the websites of New York, Washington, D.C., or national news outlets, such as the New York Times, New York Post, Washington Post and CNN. Fox News was one exception. It had a section of its website with a few 9/11-related stories. This is in stark contrast to last year’s media coverage, in which intricate series of stories and special sections reflecting on the 10-year anniversary were posted days before the date’s arrival.

The National Cathedral, which last year hosted a concert at the Kennedy Center to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks that included an appearance by President Barack Obama, said it will host a more subdued event this year, choosing to remember the victims in regularly scheduled prayers rather than hosting a separate service.

The Rev. Francis Wade, interim dean of the cathedral, told the Associated Press that the change is part of an effort to help the country “heal and move past the tragedy of 9/11.”

Even the press release for the Congressional remembrance event was lacking emotion, with no comments from Members who will attend and speak at the
memorial ceremony.

Members from New York, such as Republican Rep. Peter King and Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, say they will spend the anniversary in New York visiting with 9/11 victims’ family members and attending memorials at ground zero. But King had no comment on the difference in tone of this anniversary.

The difference in tone can also be seen in the schedules of Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden.

Unlike last year, when Obama embarked on a three-state tour to visit each site that was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, his schedule is more subdued this year. He will take a day off from campaigning to lead a moment of silence at the White House and will visit the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial, where at 9:30 a.m., Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will host a remembrance ceremony for the family members of those killed in the attack there. Later on, Obama will speak to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Rockville, Md.

Biden will deliver remarks at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.