“The structure for this program was designed 10 years ago, with the consultation of a lot of families of those who died, and it is primarily for the families,” Stu Loeser, Mayor Bloomberg’s press secretary, told the New York Times.
He said it was wrong to say the ceremony excludes prayer or clergy members. Chaplains from the Fire and Police Department and Port Authority police often attend. Loeser said most people use the events’ moments of silence for reflection and prayer.
At the official event the names of the victims are read aloud continuously for hours, allowing four breaks for moments of silence at the times when the hijacked planes struck the two World Trade Center towers and the times when the towers fell. This Sunday there will be a total of six moments of silence for the plane that hit the Pentagon and the plane that crashed near Shanksville, Pa.
Participants in the service will meet in front of St. Paul’s Chapel at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10. They will then walk to West Broadway and Vecsey Street where they will begin a prayer service in front of the PATH Train entrance.
Rev. Mahoney thought it was “imperative” to have a public prayer service at Ground Zero during the anniversary weekend. While the absence of prayer at the official service may seem reasonable to some, he suggested, “it will only compound the pain and the loss of others.”
“During our prayer time at Ground Zero, we will seek God for His continued protection, especially with new credible terrorist threats, pray for those who lost loved ones, pray for our leaders and elected officials and turn to God in repentance recognizing only He can bring healing and restoration to our nation,” he said.