Beneath a hazy New York sky, thousands of family members and dignitaries gathered at Ground Zero on Sunday in a tear-filled ceremony to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recalled the sunny September morning that turned into “the blackest of nights.”
“Although we can never un-see what happened here, we can also see that children who lost their parents have grown into young adults, grandchildren have been born and good works and public service have taken root to honor those we loved and lost,” Bloomberg says.
Nearby, President Obama and former president George Bush and their wives stood behind bullet-proof glass as the names of the people who died were read.
Quoting from the 46th Psalm, Obama spoke of God’s strength, “a very present help in trouble.”
One of the family members standing shoulder to shoulder was Jennifer Nilsen, holding a framed picture of her late husband, Troy, a network engineer at Cantor Fitzgerald.
“He’s here somewhere, they never recovered his remains,” says Nilsen, of Staten Island. “So this is his resting spot.”
The ceremony marked the opening of the permanent national memorial at Ground Zero. The names of all 2,983 victims from the attacks in New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania are etched in bronze into the shimmering black stone surrounding two reflecting pools in the footprints of the Twin Towers.
At the pools, people lay American flags or draped their bodies over the names of their loved ones. Family members cried and hugged during the reading.
“Every day feels like it was yesterday,” says Elaine Barrett of Cranford, N.J., whose sister, Donna Giordano, an insurance broker with AON, died in the South Tower.
Barrett and Giordano’s son, Michael, also employees of AON, escaped that day.
“We were best friends,” says Barrett, wearing a T-shirt with Donna’s picture on the back, a big smile on her face. “I miss her. Whenever I have a problem or want to talk, I want to pick up the phone and call her. I don’t think this will ever change.”