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A decade on, New York City gathers to honor those lost on 9/11

NYers and the nation are commemorate the tenth

NYers and the nation are commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11. (Getty Images) Photo Credit: NYers and the nation are commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11. (Getty Images)

At the World Trade Center Sunday, it was as if no time had passed at all — yet so much had.

Just as in the days after 9/11, the city, revisiting its primal pain, bore witness to the raw grief of relatives who lost loved ones in New York City’s darkest hour.

“I came here today because this is no longer just a construction site,” said Diane Izzo, of Bensonhurst, whose cousin, Richard Todisco, was killed in the South Tower.

“After 10 years, after so much pain, this is a place where families can come to look ahead,” Izzo added as she wiped away tears.

Indeed, this year was different. For one, families finally gathered at the completed 9/11 Memorial, touching the names of the lost on the edge of twin waterfalls set in the towers’ footprints. Above rose a new skyscraper that revives the name of the North Tower, One World Trade Center. And significantly, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the destruction, was dead.

So as much as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was about looking back with reverence, it also placed a capstone on a tumultuous decade. Monday, the trade center will come one step closer to being woven back into city life, as the memorial opens to the public.

Before the memorial’s commemoration Sunday, President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush, joined by first lady Michelle Obama and former first lady Laura Bush, walked along one of the reflecting pools. They were greeted by politicians, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Bloomberg acknowledged how our nation has come to live “in sunshine and in shadow.”

A church bell rang twice for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. – to mark when the first plane sliced into the North Tower. Obama then read Psalm 46 from the Bible: “God is our refuge and strength.”

Bush received applause before reading a letter written by President Abraham Lincoln to a mother who lost five of her sons in the Civil War.

Sunday’s observance included five more moments of silence. Some of the speakers invited to read the names of the deceased blew kisses to the sky and made brief remarks about the impact that person has had on their lives.

“I wish my dad had been there to teach me how to drive, ask a girl out on a date and see me graduate from high school and a hundred other things I can’t even begin to name,” said Peter Negron, 21, of his father, Pete, a Port Authority employee who died in the North Tower.

“I hope that I can make my father proud of the young men that my brother and I have become.”

Follow amNewYork's Managing Editor, Rolando Pujol, on Twitter: @RolandoPujol


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