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America Marks 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks at Ground Zero

Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The flag that survived the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center and was raised at ground zero in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, returned to the site Sunday, unfurled by New York police officers and firefighters at the start of the 10-year anniversary memorial ceremony.

President Obama and former President George W. Bush, seated with their wives behind a glass shield at the site, watched as bagpipers led the first responders and families of victims into the site and a chorus sang the national anthem.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg opened the ceremony with the first city-wide moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. to commemorate the moment when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower.  Obama then read from Psalm 46, which starts, "God is our refuge and strength."

The ceremony will be punctuated by six moments of silence in all, one for each of the moments when the four planes crashed, and one for the moments when each of the towers fell.

Family members of the more than 3,000 people killed in the attacks stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the crowded memorial plaza, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with loved ones' faces and names, after making their way back Sunday morning to the site where the twin towers once stood.

They joined firefighters, police officers and emergency workers at the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan on Sunday for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.  The annual ceremony, in which the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks are read aloud, took place for the first time at the newly completed memorial plaza, with two fountains in place of where the two towers once stood.

Six moments of silence were held in all, one for each of the moments when the four planes crashed, and one for the moments when each of the towers fell.

The moment of silence recognizing when the second plane -- United Flight 175 -- hit the south tower was followed by cheers erupting for Bush as he read from a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote, quoting, "The solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."

The ceremony also included performances by Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor and Paul Simon.

Police and security presence at the memorial and throughout Lower Manhattan remained significant; police dogs and armed guards were present throughout the ceremony.  New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told ABC News that there was no new information on a terror plot, but "no reason to lessen our alert status."

Sunday's ceremony will conclude at around 1 p.m. with three trumpeters, one each from the New York Police Department, the Fire Department of New York, and the Port Authority Police Department, playing taps.

After the ceremony, Obama will attend memorials in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon in Washington.  He will also attend a Concert for Hope at the Kennedy Center in D.C. Sunday night, where he will deliver a 15-minute speech on the attacks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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