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FURY AS POLITICIANS AND STORES TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ANNIVERSARY: CASHING IN ON 9/11; 'Sad people' profiteering.

Byline: By David Cox

NEW YORKERS are furious at the way politicians and shops are cashing in on this year's September 11 anniversary.

Designated 'Patriot Day' in 2002 by President George W Bush, this year's September 11 will be marked by a day of remembrance in New York today.

But many of the city's 18 million residents are more concerned with callous retailers who are selling tacky goods linked to the tragedy.

In 2001 there was a mood of defiance around Ground Zero with street vendors selling toilet paper bearing the face of Osama bin Laden and postcards of the burning towers.

This year it has been replaced with online sales of 'cookies for America' and the Beanie Babies 'Valour the Eagle' patriot-day doll.

Bill Doyle, who lost his son Joseph in the attacks, said: 'I don't want to see 9/11 become super-sale day or half-price day, OK?'

'Anyone who tries to profit out of this is a little sad.'

Hallmark have issued the first patriot day cards this year, with American flags on the cover and messages such as 'remembering you and your loved one'.

Hallmark spokeswoman Rachel Bolton said: 'We're doing it very quietly, with no advertising, no big signs - nothing like that at all.'

At 1-800-FLOWERS, shoppers can choose red-white-and-blue flower arrangements, or the $49.99 'tower to celebrate America' - comprising three boxes of jellybeans, brownies and cookies.

Vincent Ragusa, who lost his firefighter son Michael in the terrorist atrocity, said: 'I guess it's the American way.

'I'm not keen on it. It's a very solemn day for us. My thoughts really aren't with somebody's company profits.'

With America in the grip of a presidential elec-tion, many voters were disturbed at the way George Bush chose to hold his campaign rally in New York's Madison Square Garden.

Presidential hopeful John Kerry said: 'George Bush and Dick Cheney are engaging in shameful and irresponsible behaviour in trying to play the politics of fear and exploit the war on terror.'

One focus of the campaign has inevitably been the 'war on terror', which was the main theme of the Republican Convention, where supporters praised their leader for his 'courage' in responding to September 11.

The main thrust of Bush's speech was based on the terrorist attack.

He said: 'I have seen the character of a great nation. My fellow Americans, for as long as our country stands, people will look to the resurrection of New York City and they will say, 'Here buildings fell and here a nation rose.' It left a very bitter taste in the mouth of New Yorkers, who feel their personal tragedy is being used for political gain ahead of the remembrance service.

Today, the Ground Zero site, which will soon be home to a 1776ft 'freedom tower', will be opened at 8.46am with a minute's silence, while churches will ring their bells to mark the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Centre.

Families will then file down into the pit while 200 parents and grandparents take turns to read out the names of 2752 victims - a process which will take almost three hours.

At 9.03am, the moment flight 175 hit the South Tower, there will be another minute's silence, followed by two more at 9.59am and 10.29am to mark the collapse of the towers.

Hundreds of British police officers will be joining mourners in New York, with officers from 47 forces forming an honour guard for the families of those who died in the suicide hijackings.

After a sombre ceremony at 'ground zero', the 68 Britons who perished will be remembered at a separate service at the nearby British Memorial Garden.

During the day there will also be ceremonies at the Pentagon, which was hit by a third aircraft, killing more than 100, and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where passengers forced terrorists to crash a hijacked airliner heading for Washington.

CAPTION(S):

FLOWER OF SORROW: A red rose at Ground Zero makes a poignant tribute to the thousands who died on September 11, 2001; EASY PICKINGS: Ground Zero has become a big earner for unscrupulous shops and salesmen; MEMORIAL: Mr Johnson lays the wreath of roses
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 11, 2004
Words:700
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