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9/11 victims' families to meet again at memorial plaza

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. An attendee touches a name at the 9/11 Memorial during ceremonies for the 12th anniversary on Sept. 11, 2013, in Manhattan. Credit: Getty Images

Nationwide, thousands will commemorate the terrorist attacks of 9/11 Thursday in somber tributes, as families of victims again gather at the Sept. 11, 2001, memorial plaza in Manhattan.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum will hold the event at the plaza at the World Trade Center site to remember the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks on the trade center, the Pentagon and aboard United Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The ceremony also will honor the six people killed in the 1993 trade center bombing.

This year the plaza will be open to the public for the first time on Sept. 11 "for visitors to have a meaningful vantage point of the Tribute in Light, south of the site," museum spokesman Anthony Guido said in an email.

The public can visit the plaza from 6 p.m. to midnight; the plaza and museum will be closed during the day for the ceremony on the 13th anniversary.

The annual "Tribute in Light" -- two columns of light projected into the sky representing the Twin Towers -- will take place at sundown on Thursday, south of the plaza, and stay lit until Friday.

Six moments of silence will punctuate the reading of the names. The first will be at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane struck the north tower. The second is at 9:03 a.m. when the second plane hit the south tower. The third is at 9:37 a.m. when American Flight 77 struck the Pentagon. The fourth is at 9:59 a.m., when the south tower fell. The fifth is at 10:03 a.m. when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. The last, at 10:28 a.m., is when the north tower collapsed.

It will be the last ceremony before the 104-story 1 World Trade Center tower at Ground Zero opens later this year.

Nearly 500 Long Islanders were among those killed that day.

Kathy Owens, of Mineola, who lost her husband, Peter, 42, a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, said she will not be at the ceremony.

"It doesn't really help us, and we would rather commemorate the day privately," said Owens, who went to the 10th anniversary when the memorial plaza opened in 2011.

She added: "Those moments of silence, I would prefer not to dwell on those."

Selden resident Debra Epps, who lost her brother Christopher, 29, a Bronx resident who worked as an accountant on the 98th floor of the north tower, goes every year with family.

"It's a special day for remembrance of a life well lived," she said.

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