The US, still horrified by the September 11 attacks, will mark the second anniversary tomorrow with moments of silence and bursts of patriotic song, by gathering in peaceful memorial gardens and busy public squares, and by reaching out to each other.
In Parkland, Florida, a 55 pound piece of steel wreckage from the World Trade Centre will be unveiled as a new piece of art. It has been designed so that years from now, school children can touch it and feel a bit of what was lost.
In Portland, Maine, plants from the garden of a couple killed on American Airlines Flight 11 will bloom at a memorial honouring the seven people from the state who died.
In West Virginia, workers at a steel mill producing decking for the rebuilding of the World Trade Centre will ask the public to sign their names onto a steel plate that will become a part of the new structure.
And in Tampa – home of Central Command and US Special Operations Command, the two leading commands in the war on terror – Harley-Davidson riders will raise money for the widows and orphans of police officers, firefighters and Special Operations forces who have died.
Organisers of the memorials say they are looking for ways to honour those who perished in the attacks and to keep alive the sense of community which permeated the nation in the days that followed.
“It was something our generation never experienced. We lived this wonderful immune life,” said Elaine Diaz, a spokeswoman for Ferman Harley-Davidson in Tampa, which is organising the motorcycle ride. “It helps bring people together and it helps us feel united.”
The sites where more than 3,000 people died that day – Manhattan’s ground zero, the Pentagon, and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania – will again be centre stage for the day.
President George Bush will observe a moment of silence on the White House South Lawn at 8.46am (13.46pm Irish time), the time the first plane hit the trade centre, and will attend a prayer service. Later in the day, he will meet troops wounded in Iraq.
A presidential proclamation designates September 11 as a national day of prayer and remembrance and as Patriot Day.
Vice President Dick Cheney will attend a memorial service at ground zero and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
At 10.06am, bells will toll in the rural communities throughout south-east Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed. A 2,000-pound bell that was brought to the first anniversary of the attacks will toll 40 times – once for each of the victims – at the Living Memorials Project in Somerset County.
Nearly 1,200 miles away, muralist Michael Anthony Mignano – transplanted from New York to Parkland, a town of about 15,000 in South Florida – has turned a piece of the World Trade Centre steel into a memorial. The 12-inch-square section was one of about 150 sections sent nationwide.
Mignano said that when he started the project, he travelled to ground zero for inspiration.
“It tore me apart,” he said. “I felt very driven to do something. It was just important to do.”
Middletown, New Jersey, which lost 37 residents in the attacks, will unveil a memorial on four wooded acres in the centre of town. Victims are honoured with monuments, each bearing a name, an etching of a face and a message from surviving family.
“The nice thing about it is it’s a place where people can come and reflect and spend some time,” Middletown Councillor Patrick W Parkinson said.
The memorial garden in Maine includes a plaque honouring the seven state residents killed in the attacks and a black granite monument to rescuers who lost their lives.
In San Francisco, a five mile long stretch of American flags will be unfurled along the waterfront by volunteers. The same flags were held by about 1,000 people circling the Statute of Liberty on Sunday.
“I wanted to show the East Coast that they are not separate or alone,” said Chinese-born artist Jian-Hai ”Pop” Zhao. “I want to bring this artwork from the West Coast to the East Coast to try to build a big picture of the whole country together, actually, the whole world together.”