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Bell ceremony honors fallen

Members of the Demopolis Fire Department held an honorary ceremony at Fire Station No. 1 on U.S. Highway 80 East yesterday morning.

The ceremony began at 8:45 a.m. with the lowering of the American flag to half-mast. Chief Ronnie Few gave a speech about the honor of the sacrifice given by the victims of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the honor of those who serve the community and country, putting their lives on the line every day.

A bell was rung at 8:59 a.m. and fire engine sirens wailed, marking the time of the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The ceremony closed with a prayer.

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama called off their campaigns for the day, and in the late afternoon descended the long ramp into the pit of the World Trade Center site, bowing their heads and leaving the flowers in a reflecting pool.

At the Pentagon, 15,000 people turned out for the dedication of the first permanent memorial built at any of the three sites where hijacked planes crashed. It includes 184 benches that will glow at night, one for each victim there.

“Thanks to the brave men and women, and all those who work to keep us safe, there has not been another attack on our soil in 2,557 days,” President Bush said at the outdoor dedication.

In New York, the crowd fell silent in a park just east of the trade center site at 8:46, 9:03, 9:59 and 10:29 a.m. — the times when two hijacked jets slammed into the buildings and the twin towers fell.

In Shanksville, Pa., McCain attended a simple ceremony held in a large field near the point where United Airlines Flight 93 slammed into the ground — driven down, investigators believe, when passengers who rushed the cockpit to prevent another attack on a building.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.