The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks will be a grand but subdued affair in New York City that will involve two United States presidents, poetry readings and visits by victims’ family members to the new memorial, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Friday.
President Obama and his predecessor, President George W. Bush, will attend, Mr. Bloomberg said in an appearance on WOR-AM (710). Former Gov. George E. Pataki and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who were in office during the attacks, will participate, as will Mr. Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
Mr. Bloomberg said the officials would take turns reading quotations and poems to mark the day. The list of 9/11 victims will also be read in its entirety, and for the first time the annual New York recitation will include the names of those who died in Washington and Pennsylvania.
“This cannot be political,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “No speeches whatsoever. It’s not an appropriate thing.”
The World Trade Center site will be accessible on Sept. 11 only to family members of those killed in the attacks 10 years ago; the memorial will open to the general public, by reservation, starting the next day. Officials have already received several hundred thousand reservations for visits to the memorial, and they expect several million more in the first year.
Mr. Bloomberg said the site would be something of a maze to navigate, with several security checkpoints near the entrance on the west side and with construction areas cordoned off. Scaffolding will cover the area near the Freedom Tower to prevent debris from falling on visitors.
“It’s a very carefully, well thought out system,” Mr. Bloomberg said. However, he said, “I’m sure some people are going to complain.”
Mr. Bloomberg said the public would still have access to the major landmarks, including the waterfall reflecting pools that stand as footprints of the former Twin Towers. The names of the victims of the 2001 attacks, as well as the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center, are inscribed in the edges of the pools.
“You’ll be able to walk up and touch the names and look over and around both of the voids,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
Construction of the memorial and a corresponding museum is expected to finish by 2014, but parts will open before that time.
The museum will bring visitors underground to the foundations of the original World Trade Center. It will display remnants of the staircases that people used to rush to safety in the aftermath of the attacks, as well as artifacts from the site.
One of those artifacts, a cross-shaped steel beam found amid the rubble, has stirred controversy in recent days. American Atheists, a nonprofit group, filed a lawsuit arguing that the cross, which became a symbol of hope to many in the days after the attacks, violated the Constitution because it is a religious symbol and the museum is partly financed by the government.
Mr. Bloomberg, asked about the lawsuit, defended the cross, saying it was a part of history.
“In a museum you want to show things that impacted people’s behavior back then, even if you don’t think it was right,” he said. “Museums are for history.”
He noted that other religious artifacts would be displayed, including a Star of David cut from the steel of the towers, a Jewish prayer shawl and a Bible.
“A lot of people looked to religion for strength after the attack,” he said. “You shouldn’t tell people what religion to practice or whether to practice a religion, but you also shouldn’t prevent people from practicing any religion they want in any ways they want.”