George Bush has paid homage to victims of the September 11 attacks to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy. The US president and his wife Laura placed a floral wreath upon reflective pools that mark the former locations of the twin towers in New York. They also attended a remembrance service at nearby St Paul’s chapel and greeted firefighters at a fire station overlooking the site of the attack.
The ceremony marked the official beginning of nearly 24 hours of commemorations at the three crash sites where the attacks killed almost 3,000 people. In the capital Washington, meanwhile, thousands joined the “Freedom Walk” – a march billed as a memorial to victims and a show of support for those serving in the military.
The fifth anniversary, coming two months ahead of Congressional elections, has triggered a partisan battle over the war in Iraq and whether the country is more or less vulnerable to another attack. Such political acrimony is likely to be put aside today. At precisely 8.46 local time, a minute’s silence will be observed, recalling the exact moment when the first tower was hit.