In Maryland and around the country, Sept. 11 will be a day of mournful choral music and memorial walks, of church bells and flag-raising, of button wearing and volunteering, of both pausing and going on.
As the first anniversary of one of the most devastating events on U.S. soil, it is a day whose meaning is still being discovered. Ceremonies, moments of silence and other observances will be ubiquitous, but most Americans will go to work and school as usual.
"There is some uncertainty as to how best to commemorate or respond to the events," said David Sattler, a Western Washington University psychology professor who has studied people's responses to the terrorist attacks. "I know one common reaction that all of us are having is, what can we do? We want to do something."
The first anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor - a day often compared to Sept. 11 - was marked with the tolling of bells, raising of flags and special history classes in public schools. But President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had declared that the date would "live in infamy," spent the anniversary working quietly in the White House.
President Bush, by contrast, will observe the anniversary of the terrorist attacks by visiting the three sites where airplanes crashed a year earlier. In December, he signed legislation giving the anniversary an official name: Patriot Day.
Bush will begin his day at the Pentagon, where an hourlong closed ceremony will feature a moment of silence at 9:37 a.m., the time that American Airlines Flight 77 struck the west side of the building. At the site where the World Trade Center's twin towers once stood, the names of those who died will be recited. Family and friends of those killed on United Flight 93 will gather for a public ceremony at the field near Shanksville, Pa., where that plane went down.
Across the nation, the International Association of Fire Chiefs has suggested that church and fire station bells toll at 10:05 a.m. and 10:28 a.m., the times the towers collapsed. A Seattle concert-goer's brainstorm has led to plans for a "Rolling Requiem" - performances of Mozart's Requiem across the United States and in almost every international time zone at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit its mark.
In Albuquerque, N.M., two beams from the World Trade Center will be dedicated for display in a church bell tower. In Colorado Springs, Colo., citizens will make a commemorative piece of art. In Maryland, the town of Gaithersburg will dedicate "Inspiration Park" in memory of the victims. In Baltimore, people can join a downtown memorial service, take part in a charity run, perform volunteer work or observe a "peace path" along Charles Street.
But Sept. 11 will also, in some respects, be a normal day. Most companies are not offering a special day off, though some are giving employees time to volunteer. The Orioles will play their nemesis, the New York Yankees, in the Bronx that night.
Striking the right tone
Kristin Bowl, a spokeswoman for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va., said employers have struggled with how to handle the anniversary.
Many have decided to acknowledge the day - with moments of silence, patriotic buttons and flags at half-staff. But businesses have been mindful of striking the right tone, balancing sensitivity with normality, Bowl said.
"I think that most organizations, profit and nonprofit, feel that one of the most important things our country can do is continue to be strong, continue doing our jobs," she said.
That will be the approach at the Pentagon, whose 23,000 employees are expected to show up or use time off they have earned, said Jim Turner, a spokesman for the Defense Department.
For Turner, who was working when the plane hit and spent much of the next 24 hours briefing the press, coming to work on the anniversary will be "an honor," he said. "This is just something that would redouble my efforts, personally speaking."
Several representatives of local companies spoke of the need to be "respectful" and "low-key" in their observances. "A lot of people want to kind of remember it in their own way," said Kirstie Durr, a Comcast cable company spokeswoman.
At the spice manufacturer McCormick & Co., flags at U.S. sites will fly at half-staff, and employees will be offered time for a "brief, silent remembrance." American flags will fly from Comcast trucks in Baltimore, Howard and Harford counties, and some employees will receive free copies of the Bruce Springsteen CD that pays tribute to victims. Employees of some large companies can expect to hear the thoughts of their bosses on the anniversary, by voice mail or e-mail.
Allfirst Bank offices and branches will observe a moment of silence at 9 a.m. and will display signs with flags and the words "We remember" - with no Allfirst logo, said spokesman Phil Hosmer.
Some companies, including Allfirst, have given their employees time off to volunteer at the United Way of Central Maryland's annual Day of Caring, which is scheduled for Sept. 11. So far, about 1,200 people have signed up to volunteer at projects around the region, a pace officials say is ahead of last year's.
At T. Rowe Price, the response to this year's Day of Caring was "overwhelming," said spokeswoman Robyn Brenza. So far, at least 200 employees have signed up to plant flowers, serve meals to the homeless and do other work for nonprofit agencies. They will be paid as usual, as they have been in years past.
"It seems that people really responded to that, to do something that seemed meaningful for the community that day," Brenza said.
'Run to Remember'
In Baltimore, early birds can take part in a "Run to Remember," a five-kilometer run/walk and one-mile walk that will thread through downtown at 7 a.m., starting at police headquarters. The race will benefit police and firefighter foundations.
As part of the Rolling Requiem, choirs will perform at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis and at Salisbury University. The university will also open a "meditative" labyrinth where people may walk and contemplate, starting on the eve of the anniversary.
A public ceremony at noon at Baltimore's War Memorial building will recognize the sacrifices of police officers and firefighters who died in the attacks, with the showing of a documentary that followed the rescue efforts. The ceremony will end with the laying of a wreath at the firefighters' memorial next to the building, and a "final gong" for the firefighters who have answered their last call, said Michael Maybin, a spokesman for the Baltimore Fire Department.
At 4 p.m., a fledgling group called Women in Black is hoping hundreds of people will form a "peace path" along Charles Street, from downtown to Towson, in a quiet demonstration against violence.
"The reason we're doing this is to mourn the losses, the destruction, the pain that comes from violence and war," said Betsy Cunningham, a real estate lawyer who was moved by Sept. 11 to create a local branch of Women in Black, a group of women in mourning around the world.
Cunningham said she has no idea how many people will turn out for the peace path. Whatever happens, she is hoping the path will lead people who live and work along one of Baltimore's main thoroughfares to take notice of the day.
"That's what this peace path is about, just taking it right to their front door," she said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun