In first, memorial will be open on night of 9/11

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In first, memorial will be open on night of 9/11
President Barack Obama speaks in Tarrytown, N.Y., near the Tappan Zee Bridge, in the background, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, about the need for a 21st Century Transportation Infrastructure. (AP Photo)
President Barack Obama and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tour the destroyed Ladder 3 truck at the September 11 Memorial Museum, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. Speaking at the dedication, the president said, no act of terror can match the strength and character of the United States. He says, quote, "Nothing can ever break us." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks at the dedication ceremony for the National September 11 Memorial Museum on Thursday, May 15, 2014 in New York. The museum opens to the public on May 21. (AP Photo/John Angelillo, Pool)
President Barack Obama and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tour the destroyed Ladder 3 truck at the September 11 Memorial Museum,Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. Obama spoke at the dedication in New York for the National September 11 Memorial Museum, saying the museum tells the story of 9/11 so that future generations will never forget. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
As the image of Wells Crowther, a victim of the September 11 attacks is displayed behind him, President Barack Obama speaks at the National September 11 Memorial Museum, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. Obama spoke at the dedication in New York for the National September 11 Memorial Museum. He said the museum tells the story of 9/11 so that future generations will never forget. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, and Diana Taylor, tour the Memorial Hall at the National September 11 Memorial Museum, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, along with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton tour the Memorial Hall at the National September 11 Memorial Museum with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tour Memorial Hall at the National September 11 Memorial Museum with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. Speaking at the dedication, the president said, no act of terror can match the strength and character of the United States. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks at the National September 11 Memorial Museum, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. Speaking at the dedication, the president said, no act of terror can match the strength and character of the United States. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
As the twin towers are displayed behind him, President Barack Obama speaks at the National September 11 Memorial Museum, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. Speaking at the dedication, the president said, no act of terror can match the strength and character of the United States. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg tour the destroyed Ladder 3 truck at the September 11 Memorial Museum, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. Speaking at the dedication, the president said, no act of terror can match the strength and character of the United States. He says, quote, "Nothing can ever break us." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks at the dedication ceremony for the National September 11 Memorial Museum on Thursday, May 15, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/John Angelillo, Pool)
President Barack Obama speaks at the dedication ceremony for the National September 11 Memorial Museum on Thursday, May 15, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, Pool)
President Barack Obama speaks at the dedication ceremony for the National September 11 Memorial Museum on Thursday, May 15, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Timothy A. Clary, Pool)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave as they board Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Thursday, May 15, 2014. After they attended the dedication of the 9/11 museum at the World Trade Center site Thursday before it opens to the public on May 21. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), accompanied by his wife Mary Pat Christie, delivers his remarks during the dedication ceremony in Foundation Hall at the National September 11 Memorial Museum at ground zero May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80-foot high tridents, the so-called 'Ground Zero Cross,' the destroyed remains of Company 21's New York Fire Department Engine as well as smaller items such as letter that fell from a hijacked plane and posters of missing loved ones projected onto the wall of the museum. The museum will open to the public on May 21. (Photo by Richard Drew-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: People watch a live video from the Ground Zero memorial site of the dedication ceremony of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80 ft high tridents, the so-called 'Ground Zero Cross,' the destroyed remains of Company 21's New York Fire Department Engine as well as smaller items such as letter that fell from a hijacked plane and posters of missing loved ones projected onto the wall of the museum. The museum will open to the public on May 21. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the dedication ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial Museum May 15, 2014 in New York City. In the foreground New Jersey first lady Mary Pat Christie puts her hand on the shoulder of her husband, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80 ft high tridents, the so-called 'Ground Zero Cross,' the destroyed remains of Company 21's New York Fire Department Engine as well as smaller items such as letter that fell from a hijacked plane and posters of missing loved ones projected onto the wall of the museum. The museum will open to the public on May 21. (John Munson-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) is greeted by Alson Crowther (C) and Ling Young (L) during the dedication ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial Museum September 11 Memorial Museum at ground zero May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80 ft high tridents, the so-called 'Ground Zero Cross,' the destroyed remains of Company 21's New York Fire Department Engine as well as smaller items such as letter that fell from the hijacked plane and posters of missing loved ones projected onto the wall of the museum. The museum will open to the public on May 21. (Photo by Tim Clary-Pool/Getty Images)
New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R) chats with Mayor Bill de Blasio (L) at the dedication of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York, on May 15, 2014. US President Barack Obama inaugurated the museum commemorating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda suicide attackers which killed nearly 2,800 people. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the opening ceremony for the National September 11 Memorial Museum at ground zero May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80 ft high tridents, the so-called 'Ground Zero Cross,' the destroyed remains of Company 21's New York Fire Department Engine as well as smaller items such as letter that fell from the hijacked plane and posters of missing loved ones projected onto the wall of the museum. The museum will open to the public on May 21. (Photo by Tim Clary-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his remarks during the dedication ceremony in Foundation Hall at the National September 11 Memorial Museum at ground zero May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80-foot high tridents, the so-called 'Ground Zero Cross,' the destroyed remains of Company 21's New York Fire Department Engine as well as smaller items such as letter that fell from a hijacked plane and posters of missing loved ones projected onto the wall of the museum. The museum will open to the public on May 21. (Photo by Richard Drew-Pool/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: Members of the Port Authority Police pause at the Ground Zero memorial site during the dedication ceremony of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80 ft high tridents, the so-called 'Ground Zero Cross,' the destroyed remains of Company 21's New York Fire Department Engine as well as smaller items such as letter that fell from a hijacked plane and posters of missing loved ones projected onto the wall of the museum. The museum will open to the public on May 21. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15: People watch a live video from the Ground Zero memorial site of the dedication ceremony of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York May 15, 2014 in New York City. The museum spans seven stories, mostly underground, and contains artifacts from the attack on the World Trade Center Towers on September 11, 2001 that include the 80 ft high tridents, the so-called 'Ground Zero Cross,' the destroyed remains of Company 21's New York Fire Department Engine as well as smaller items such as letter that fell from a hijacked plane and posters of missing loved ones projected onto the wall of the museum. The museum will open to the public on May 21. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) -- The Sept. 11 memorial plaza will be open on the night of the attacks' anniversary this year, marking the first time the general public will be able to visit ground zero on the commemoration date.

The plaza will be closed to the public during the remembrance ceremony and much of the rest of the day, but it will open from 6 p.m. to midnight for those who want to pay respects and view one of the most evocative observances - the twin beams called the Tribute in Light - from an especially "meaningful vantage point," memorial President Joe Daniels said in an email Thursday to victims' families.

A symbolic shift for a site that was inaccessible to the public for years after the attacks, the plan reflects its increasing openness as more gets rebuilt.

The memorial plaza, with its massive reflecting pools etched with the names of the dead, opened in 2011. But to control crowds amid construction elsewhere on the World Trade Center property, tickets and security screening were required until this spring. Since the ticketed, underground memorial museum opened in May, open access has been allowed during days and evenings at the plaza, which joins the streetscape of lower Manhattan even as it serves as a place of remembrance protected by police and security guards. Museum officials said that security measures would be in place for the public hours on Sept. 11 but that they couldn't disclose details.

The night hours on Sept. 11 will provide visitors a solemn setting for looking at the Tribute in Light, which first appeared on March 11, 2002, to mark the six months that had passed since the attacks. It has become a moving, quietly powerful element of the anniversaries since.

It shines from a roof near the trade center, traditionally from sunset to dawn. Formed from 88 powerful bulbs positioned into two squares that echo the fallen Twin Towers, the light memorial reaches four miles skyward, according to the Municipal Art Society, a nonprofit group that orchestrates the $500,000-a-year project.

The museum will be closed to the public throughout the day.

The private anniversary ceremony will be held on the plaza in the morning, a tribute that has centered on reading of the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in the 2001 attacks, as well as recognizing the six people killed in the 1993 trade center bombing.

"Of course, remembering those we lost is something we do each and every day," Daniels noted in his message Thursday.

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Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter (at) jennpeltz.

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