"As the names are read out, I just listen and have great memories of people who I knew very well who were on that list of names. It was very emotional," Pataki reflected by phone last week. Among his friends who were killed was Neil Levin, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
But Pataki supports the decision not to have government figures speak.
"It's time to take the next step, which is simply to continue to pay tribute," Pataki said.
The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum — led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as its board chairman — announced in July that this year's ceremony would include only relatives reading victims' names.
The point, memorial President Joe Daniels said, was "honoring the victims and their families in a way free of politics" in an election year.
Some victims' relatives and commentators praised the decision. "It is time" to extricate Sept. 11 from politics, the Boston Globe wrote in an editorial.
But others said keeping politicians off the rostrum smacked of ... politics.
The move came amid friction between the memorial foundation and the governors of New York and New Jersey over financing for the museum — friction that abruptly subsided Monday, when Bloomberg and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement that paves the way for finishing the $700 million project "as soon as practicable."
Before the deal, Cuomo, a Democrat, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, had signaled their displeasure by calling on federal officials to give the memorial a financial and technical hand. Some victims' relatives saw the no-politicians anniversary ceremony as retaliation.
"Banning the governors of New York and New Jersey from speaking is the ultimate political decision," said one relatives' group, led by retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches. His firefighter son and namesake was killed responding to the burning World Trade Center.
Spokesmen for Christie and Cuomo said the governors were fine with the memorial organizers' decision.
Of course, it's difficult to remember 9/11 without remembering its impact on the nation's political narrative.
After all, "9/11 has defined politics in America" since 2001, said Costas Panagopoulos, a Fordham University political science professor. "At the end of the day, 9/11 was a public tragedy that affected the nation as a whole."
Associated Press writer Verena Dobnik contributed to this report.
Follow Jennifer Peltz at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz
- Prepackaged caramel apples linked to 4...
- AP Photos: 4 seasons in 1 war on WWI...
- Theater shooter's parents plead for his life,...
- Hackers warn not to release 'The Interview'...
- Canada man finds an Elizabeth Gallagher for...
- Feisty former NYC schools chief cuts loose on...
- Forget Santa Claus, Virginia. Was there a...
- A post-election flurry: Obama tests his powers
- Obama: US re-establishing diplomatic... 49
- Vermont governor abandons single-payer... 32
- Police: 3 dead, including gunman, in... 18
- Sony cancels 'The Interview' Dec. 25... 15
- A post-election flurry: Obama tests his... 14
- Taliban assault on Pakistan school... 13
- Utah football's Hackett, Orchard named... 11
- So wait? Pets don't go to heaven? 9