Midmorning on a recent Tuesday in Washington and life is a-bustling at Union Station, the railroad terminal just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. People come and go, sidestepping the Jersey barriers at the entrance, making for the platform gates, some talking on cellphones, others to each other, still others moving in purposeful silence.
Not a soul seems to be paying attention to the security signs or videos.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is banning clergy-led prayer at this weekend's events marking the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The mayor's office says he wants to avoid disagreements over which religious leaders participate. Some religious groups are calling the ban a sign of prejudice against religion.
Each year, the oral history project StoryCorps has marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with the voices of those directly affected by the events: wives and husbands, grandparents and friends of those who died that day.
But as StoryCorps founder Dave Isay tells Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep, the outpouring of stories about Sept. 11 initially came as something of a surprise.
After the twin towers fell and recovery operations progressed, the New York and New Jersey Port Authority began storing tons of rusted steel beams from the World Trade Center. After considering thousands of applications for the steel, the Port Authority began shipping the modern artifacts across the country this year—including 15 pieces to Colorado.
Abdulaziz Al Rabah remembers it was a Tuesday. The call to evening prayer was echoing across his hometown of Hafr-al-Batin, Saudi Arabia, and bearded religious police had shooed him and his friends off the neighborhood soccer pitch.
"Have you seen what happened to America?" a wide-eyed friend asked the 13-year-old.
Racing home, Al Rabah joined his mother to watch the satellite television newscasts of America's agony unfolding on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I remember she was sad to see two guys jumping to the ground," he recalled.