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9/11 Anniversary 2012: New York Ceremony Held For September 11

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Deanna Witmer
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« on: September 11, 2012, 09:08:47 pm »

As bagpipes played at the year-old Sept. 11 memorial in New York, families holding balloons, flowers and photos of their loved ones bowed their heads in silence at 8:46 a.m., the moment that the first hijacked jetliner crashed into the trade center's north tower. Bells tolled to mark the moments that planes crashed into the second tower, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, and the moments that each tower collapsed.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama laid a white floral wreath at the Pentagon, above a concrete slab that said "Sept. 11, 2001 – 937 am." Obama later recalled the horror of the attacks, declaring, "Our country is safer and our people are resilient."

Vice President Joe Biden remembered the 40 victims of the plane that crashed in a field south of Pittsburgh, saying he understood 11 years haven't diminished memories.

"Today is just as monumental a day for all of you, for each of your families, as any Sept. 11 has ever been," he said.

Wearing white ribbons, many wearing T-shirts with their loved ones' pictures, victims' family in New York read loved ones' names, and looked up to the sky to talk to their family – even those they hadn't met.

Juan Torres wasn't old enough to remember his uncle, Luis, "but after all the stories I heard, I knew he was a good man. Although he threw himself from the building, I know God was waiting for him below and caught him in his arms."

Like 2001, this Sept. 11 was on a Tuesday, for the second time since the attacks. The cloudless blue sky and brisk, early fall weather recalled the morning of 2001.

At sunset, the Manhattan skyline was illuminated by twin towers of light, the annual Tribute in Light installation, which debuted six months after the attacks and has become a Sept. 11 tradition.

Other ceremonies were held across the country – from Long Island, where hundreds of people wrote messages to their loved ones on a memorial, to Boston, where more than 200 people with ties to Massachusetts were remembered. Two of the hijacked airliners took off from Boston's Logan Airport.

But other cities changed the way they remembered. The New York City suburb of Glen Rock, N.J., where 11 victims lived, did not hold an organized memorial for the first time in a decade. Past commemorations often ran for several hours, with family laying roses in front of a granite memorial built with remnants of the twin towers' steel.

"It was appropriate for this year – not that the losses will ever be forgotten," said Brad Jordan, chairman of a Glen Rock community group that helps victims' families. "But we felt it was right to shift the balance a bit from the observance of loss to a commemoration of how the community came together to heal."

Several people attending the ceremonies were related to soldiers who fought in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed 9/11, where the U.S. military death toll years ago surpassed the 9/11 victim count. Elna Tullock, whose son, Hassan Carter, is completing his second tour in Afghanistan and served another two in Iraq, admired the rising One World Trade Center tower.
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