Panetta Visits New York, Pennsylvania to Mark Sept. 11 Attacksby Viola Gienger, theunhivedmind.com
September 6th 2011 6:00 AM
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta travels to New York and Pennsylvania today to mark the 10th anniversary next Sunday of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Panetta will visit the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan before flying on to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, accompanied by officers representing each of the five branches of the U.S. armed services. Those attacks and a third on the Pentagon propelled the U.S. and its allies into a decade of war that stands to continue for years to come.
Two airliners slammed into the trade center buildings on that day and the site became known as “Ground Zero.” A third crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers thwarted an effort to strike the White House or the U.S. Capitol in Washington, according to the 9/11 commission’s report.
Panetta probably is the first cabinet member to see the finished memorial in New York and the phase one completion in Pennsylvania, Pentagon spokesman George Little said. The memorials will be unveiled on Sept. 11, after families of those who died there see the inscriptions naming the deceased.
The five service members traveling with Panetta today “have come of age during a time which has been so defined by the events of 9/11,” Pentagon spokesman Doug Wilson said.
One of those accompanying Panetta is Navy Lieutenant Adam Jones, who entered the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, his home town, in 2002. He joined the first class to enroll after the Sept. 11 attacks and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime that had harbored al- Qaeda. He has served in Iraq as well as with the Pacific fleet.
Three of the other four officers have served at least once in Iraq or Afghanistan or both. The fourth, U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Nikea Natteal of Yuma, Arizona, has served in intelligence for the Navy’s Sixth Fleet for Europe and Africa and following the earthquake in Haiti.
The U.S. has lost at least 6,224 military and civilian Defense Department personnel in the two wars, including 4,909 killed in action.
In New York, Panetta will visit the Sept. 11 memorial due to be unveiled for the anniversary, featuring reflecting pools symbolizing the voids left by the two buildings that collapsed in the attack. He’ll have lunch with members of a group that finds construction jobs for war veterans, including work at the World Trade Center site.
In Shanksville, located about 60 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, he’ll visit the temporary national memorial and a permanent site to be dedicated on the anniversary. Panetta will be accompanied there by Gerald Bingham of Churchill, Tenn., who lost his son Mark among 40 passengers and crew who died aboard United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed.
In phone calls to loved ones, passengers heard about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center earlier that morning and rushed the cockpit door in an attempt to wrest control from four hijackers, according to the 9/11 commission. Mark Bingham was among the callers, according to the report.
Panetta will take part in further anniversary ceremonies at the Pentagon over the coming days. President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush will attend New York City’s observance on Sept. 11, the first time a president has participated in the annual ceremony.
To contact the reporter on this story: Viola Gienger in Washington at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at Msilva34@bloomberg.net.
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