By CBS New York
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Today, New York City and the nation marked 18 years since the September 11th terror attacks.
A somber ceremony was held this morning in Lower Manhattan, where the names of those who died that day were read aloud by family members.
Nearly 3,000 men, women and children were killed at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on United Airlines Flight 93. The names of those killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing will also be heard.
Six moments of silence now structure that unfolds where the Twin Towers stood – twice to mark the moment each plane hit the Twin Towers, twice for when each tower fell, and two more times to mark the attacks on the Pentagon and Flight 93.
During the first moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., when the first plane struck the north tower, houses of worship tolled their belts. It was that exact moment that our city, our country, suffered such a great loss that it would attack loved ones back to Ground Zero, year after year.
The promise was to never forget, and it is fulfilled with a roll call that last almost three hours. One by one, the names of victims are read, honoring each of the nearly 3,000 men, women and children lost on September 11, 2001 and in the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center. Family members read the names at a slow cadence.
For 9/11 families, it is a day to shed tears and share memories. A day when emotions, so often held in check, resurface, and sometimes overwhelm. An honor guard made up of members of the FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority Police Department was on hand.
Kassidy Rieder sang the national anthem. Her mother Nancy Collins, a retired NYPD officer, worked at Ground Zero during the search and recovery until she discovered she was expecting Kassidy. New York’s dignitaries, including Mayor Rudolph Giuliani – who became known as America’s mayor after 9/11 – were in attendance, as usual.
Every person in attendance has a story to be shared of life and loss. “We’re expecting our first grand. So many milestones that he’s missed. Please excuse me if I stumble over any of the names. All respect to our loved ones. This one is kind of hard,” said Lashawn Clarke, who lost her husband Benjamin, a corporate chef who worked in the south tower.
Marcia and Barry Cohen lost their youngest son Kevin, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. “This year, I did a lot crying. I did. Even though it’s 18 years… can’t stop crying. He was 28. Just went to work,” Marcia said.
“My brother-in-law, firefighter John Chipura, who exemplified bravery and a strong sense of duty,” said Elizabeth Ronan. “He would be overjoyed that his sister Nancy escaped the north tower. And proud that his brother Gerard, the captain standing behind me, has dedicated his life and career to helping FDNY families in their grief.
Flowers and flags provided a splash of color against the muted tones of the memorial pools and the names etched on display panels.
“We are here to say to those who are left behind, those who have been lost, we love you and will never forget you,” said John Terry.
It’a solemn tribute to those who died and those who risked their lives to save others, like firefighter Steven Siller, who ran through the Battery Tunnel to help others after the attack. His family created the Tunnel to Towers Foundation in his honor to help the families of men and women killed in the line of duty.
“We said that we’re going to honor the sacrifice that he did, that he made, and we’re going to make sure that we turn something that was so evil that day into something that’s so good,” said Frank Siller.
For the first time, family members were able to walk through The Glades, a new memorial to rescue and recovery workers. A profound piece of the redeveloped site, it’s a reminder of the vow to rebuild, and the resiliency of New Yorkers.
Alice Greenwald, president and CEO of the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, spoke of tis importance.
“We have young people in college, people beginning their careers, who have not lived with the memory of 9/11, but who live in a world defined in so many ways by the consequences of that event,” she said.
Although it’s been 18 years, in many ways the wound still feels fresh, and remains of those killed are still being identified.
Officials say two thirds of all World Trade Center responders have at least one certified 9/11-related health condition. After a battle on Capitol Hill this summer, the Victims Compensation Fund passed through 2092.
“We’re at 204 in just the FDNY alone, and the NYPD’s at 241. So I mean, the number of first responders that have died post-9/11 is greater,” said Bobby Eustace, of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.
Tonight, the Tribute in Light returns. As we look to the skies and the illuminated spirit of the towers, we’re reminded of all we lost that day. The people who went to work that morning just like they had so many days before, the firefighters and first responders who ran in as so many were running out, all the last phone calls made to loved ones, the fear, love, panic, hope, helplessness, help and pain. Today, it all comes back.
No matter how much time has passed, the pain still remains, even for those who were not born yet. “It’s not just first responders that died that day. It’s 2,900 people. And just think about the pain and suffering, the collective pain and suffering of all those families. So that’s why today is so important. It’s important those names are read every year,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill.
The area has been redeveloped and is once again booming – a tribute to the resiliency of New Yorkers – but the reflecting pools stay a reminder of what once stood there: Never forget.
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