NEW YORK — A day of mourning for nearly 3,000 Sept. 11 victims began Saturday with moments of silence and tears near ground zero, and with observers bracing for protests over a mosque planned blocks away on what is usually an anniversary free of politics.Family members gathering at observances in New York and Pennsylvania brought flowers, pictures of loved ones and American flags, but no signs of opposition or support for the mosque. The names of all the people killed at the World Trade Center site were read aloud at a three-hour ceremony Saturday on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Demonstrators began to gather in support of an Islamic center that's generating controversy because it's two blocks from ground zero.
"Let today never, ever be a national holiday. Let it not be a celebration," said Karen Carroll, who lost her brother, firefighter Thomas Kuveikis. "It's a day to be somber; it's a day to reflect on all those thousands of people that died for us in the United States."
Bagpipes and drums played to open the ceremony, followed by brief comments by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Once again we meet to commemorate the day we have come to call 9/11. We have returned to this sacred site to join our hearts together, the names of those we loved and lost," Bloomberg said. "No other public tragedy has cut our city so deeply. No other place is as filled with our compassion, our love and our solidarity."
Moments of silence were held at 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m., the times hijacked jetliners hit the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were attending separate services at the Pentagon in Washington and a rural field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.