At 9:03 a.m. in New York today, a fireman from the fire station nearest to "Ground Zero" rang a bell twice to signal a moment of silence. It was exactly at that moment, five years ago, that a hijacked airplane, United Airlines Flight 11, hit the South Tower.
The man who was mayor of New York the day of the attacks, Rudolph Guiliani, spoke briefly at today's ceremony in Lower Manhattan.
"Five years from the day of the attack that changed our world, we've come back to remember the valor of those we've lost: those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them," Guiliani said. "We have also come to be ever mindful of the courage of those who grieve and the light that still shines in their hearts."After-Effects Of Attacks
James Carlton, a 48-year-old resident of the city, told RFE/RL that he still feels nervous when he takes public transportation.
"Vulnerability -- that America's vulnerable and that is very different ways to play out war," he said. "Definitely a sense of fear, a sense of trepidation whenever I ride the subway car. When I'm keeping coming down here [Ground Zero] I was sort of wonder if there, my fear is that someone manages to smuggle a nuclear bomb, a small one, you know. I think about that probably every day."
John Tallen, 46, works on Wall Street, the city's financial heart. He told RFE/RL that he thinks the U.S. government responded correctly to the terrorist acts of September 11 but did not fight back strongly enough.
Family members attend a ceremony at 'Ground Zero' on September 11 (epa)
"I think that we responded with about a 10th of [how we responded] when Pearl Harbor was attacked [by the Japanese in 1941]," Tallen said. "And because of that it's been harder to keep a lid on the situation in Iraq. Had we gone in and basically done it with a lot more force, we probably wouldn't have the problems we have today. But because we are trying to be politically correct and easy, that's why five years later [we have] the problems that we have."
Beatrice Garfolano is a retired teacher originally from the Caribbean island of Dominica who has lived in New York for 35 years. She was near the World Trade Center five years ago when the planes hit and she says she will never forget what she saw. With memories still fresh, she said that "New York has come a very long way from September 11. But with regard to the consequences I really cannot answer."Sad Memories
New York resident Janice Aibel told RFE/RL that people have become more cautious since 2001 and try not to think too much about their sad memories.
"I think the whole city is a little bit more careful about what we do. And I just walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and saw a man carrying a box, for instance. And I looked at him and I thought: 'Oh, my God! It's a terrorist.' Your brain never would have [thought] like that before that," she said.
"Today is particularly sad day, of course, and it was hard as I approached Manhattan from Brooklyn over the bridge," Aibel continued. "I began to look at the skyline and remember the day five years ago when I saw them burning [the towers] and it all came back to me and I got very sad."
Aibel said she disagrees with how the Bush administration has reacted to the attacks, and that many people she knows agree with her.
"I think we've headed in totally the wrong direction," she said. "There needs to be a lot more talking and exchange of language and understanding of our cultures so we can live on the same planet. And we need the support of other countries and we're not working on that. And everybody's thinking [that] America is like [President] George [W.] Bush and we're not. And his policies are destructive for our country and I hope [that] we can change that in our next [presidential] election."
U.S. flags are flying at half-staff in New York -- as well as in Washington, the site of the attack on the Pentagon -- and candlelight vigils are planned in several parks across the city this evening.