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France Remembers Sept. 11 Attacks

AUDIE CORNISH, Host:

Today's anniversary resonates for Americans, of course, but many people in other countries are marking the day as well. In fact, a ceremony in Paris is said to be the largest outside the U.S. Eleanor Beardsley reports on why the September 11th commemoration is so important there.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Yesterday evening, workers were putting the finishing touches on two 100 foot high replicas of the twin towers in central Paris. They've been erected on the Esplanade at the Trocadero, which sits right across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower. The visual effect from here is of Paris' most iconic monument rising up between New York's World Trade Towers. That symbolism is important says Patrick du Tertre's group. The French Will Never Forget built the towers.

PATRICK DU TERTRE: We wanted to tell the Americans the French will never forget 9/11 also. We want to be with you. We want to express our friendship and our condolence.

BEARDSLEY: On one tower is a list of name of all the victims, the other carries thousands of messages of sympathy from French people. Today's event will include testimony from survivors, appearances by national politicians and a candlelight ceremony at the end of the day.

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BEARDSLEY: French television and radio networks are also playing special programming for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The French media has been building up to today's anniversary for weeks. France was at America's side immediately after the attacks. French newspaper "Le Monde" famously proclaimed on September 12th, 2001, today we are all American. Later, France and America fell out over the war in Iraq, but that was just a disagreement between friends, says Parisian Giome Plasar (sp) who says the French-American relationship is still strong.

GIOME PLASAR: Doesn't change the relationship between the U.S. and France. France has always been behind the U.S., including U.S. Independence War and the U.S. has always been behind France.

BEARDSLEY: Many French people say it is right and important that France mark the 9/11 anniversary along with the U.S.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STAR SPANGLED BANNER")

BEARDSLEY: President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke at 10th anniversary ceremony at the American embassy. Sarkozy said America and its allies had vanquished over the criminals who carried out the attacks on September 11th.

DU TERTRE: (Foreign language spoken)

BEARDSLEY: The most beautiful response to these assassins, said Sarkozy, is that the Arab-Muslim world liberated itself while proclaiming America's values of freedom and democracy. For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.