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Thread: June 2 Ceremony

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2001

    June 2 Ceremony

    Trade Center Victims Memorialized

    Filed at 7:23 p.m. ET

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Hundreds of relatives of people lost on Sept. 11 joined hands at the site of the World Trade Center on Sunday as those hit hardest by terrorism sought solace at an interfaith memorial ceremony marking the end of the recovery effort.

    Family members hoisted pictures of their loved ones above their heads as the ceremony began with bagpipers playing ``Amazing Grace.'' Then, a woman sang ``God Bless America'' amid the muffled sobs of relatives.

    Among those at the site was William Healey, whose niece Renee Newell, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, the airliner that was flown into the World Trade Center's north tower.

    ``My niece is here forever,'' Healey said, speaking before the ceremony. ``It doesn't seem like it's the last day to me.''

    The ceremony included the lighting of four candles: one for peace and three to honor rescue workers, the families and the more than 2,800 people who died there.

    ``You will never be forgotten. Your memory will live on forever,'' said one woman, as a candle was lighted. Afterward, nine white doves were released that circled ground zero before soaring out of sight.

    Jennifer Nilsen, 33, who lost her husband Troy Nilsen, said the ceremony added a touch of dignity to the grim work at ground zero. The remains of her husband, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, have not been identified.

    ``It's real important you know, saying goodbye to my husband, which I never wanted to do,'' she said. ``I'm glad this was done today.''

    About 1,100 victims have been identified and nearly 20,000 body parts were recovered during the excavation of the 16-acre site, which ended after more than eight months of round-the-clock work.

    ``Most of these families haven't even found the remains of their loved ones,'' said Dennis McKeon, director of the St. Clare's Church WTC Outreach program, which organized Sunday's ceremony. ``Starting next week, this is going to be a construction site, so this is their last chance to say goodbye.''

    On Thursday, thousands of people attended a service organized by the city to mark the end of the cleanup at the site and to honor the rescue workers. An empty, flag-draped stretcher symbolizing the victims whose remains have not been recovered was carried out of the pit, followed by the trade center's last steel beam, draped in black cloth and a flag.

    Some victims' relatives had criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg for not holding the service on a weekend, when they said it would be easier for families to attend. Sunday's ceremony was planned for family members who weren't able to be there Thursday.

    The mayor said he chose a weekday because he did not want the service to interfere with religious observances. He said he wouldn't attend Sunday's service because he didn't ``want to politicize anything.''

    Among those who did attend on Sunday were former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sen. Charles Schumer.

    The search for human remains will continue at the Staten Island landfill, where 1.8 million tons of debris from the site were taken by trucks and barges, city officials said. Remains not identified will be kept until science advances makes further identification possible.

    The cleanup finished more than three months earlier than expected and, at less than $750 million, at a fraction of the estimated cost.


    Agence France-Presse
    A woman throws a flower into the former site of the World Trade Center after hundreds of relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks marked the end of the recovery effort.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Mourning and Prayers Near 16 Empty Acres

    any of them said they would be back, to leave flowers, stuffed animals and written messages for their dead relatives, and to mark the lifetime of anniversaries ahead: the first year, the 5th year, the 10th.

    Still, yesterday's memorial service for the families of about 2,800 victims of the World Trade Center attack, a time for them to mark the passing of ground zero from recovery site to construction zone, held enough finality for organizers to call it the "Ground Zero Closing Ceremony."

    For many it was a day to begin thinking of the 16-acre hole in downtown Manhattan as a burial ground holding the unrecovered remains, somewhere, of their sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, children, friends and colleagues. The hunt for bodies there was over, and the city had marked that moment on Thursday, as the last column was draped in an American flag and moved out of the pit on a flatbed truck.

    "I'm drawn here," said Ruth Powell, whose son Shawn, a firefighter with Engine Company 207 in Brooklyn, was killed on Sept. 11. "I have to touch the dirt. I have no remains. This is all I have right now."

    (So far only about 1,000 of the victims' remains have been recovered and identified.)

    The 11:30 a.m. service yesterday, which followed the last regular Sunday Mass at ground zero, was far smaller and more intimate than the Thursday event, which drew thousands of people.

    About 500 people attended yesterday's service of prayer and song, held on the perimeter of the pit, near Church and Liberty Streets; the Mass had drawn about 300 people. Many in attendance were adorned in some way with relics of their grief: laminated photographs of the lost; T-shirts that said things like "God Bless James"; and flowers, many bouquets of flowers.

    Ms. Powell brought two copies each of her two favorite photographs of her son that were placed back-to-back in a smooth plastic jacket. She also tucked a sunflower with the stem cut off into a small plastic bag and tied the bag to her wrist with a piece of string.

    "That's him," she said, touching the flower, as she waited for the service to begin. "He was a lot like a sunflower."

    A few minutes later, as the microphone system was tested and candles were set on a small stage surrounded by construction trailers, a woman standing next to Ms. Powell asked if she wanted to pass her son's photographs through the crowd. The woman, Annelise Peterson, 23, whose brother and boyfriend died in the attack, assured Ms. Powell that someone would fasten the pictures to the dais for her. A few minutes later, they were up there, and the photographs had become part of a collage on the stage.

    "Look at that," Ms. Peterson said to Ms. Powell. "It's front and center."

    The 45-minute interfaith service began with a performance of "Amazing Grace" and ended with "Taps." By the end, it was hard to find someone without a tear-stained face.

    In the middle of the service, organized by St. Clare's Church WTC Outreach Program and the 9/11 Coalition of Family Groups, four candles were lighted, one for the dead, one for their families, one for the rescue workers and volunteers at ground zero, and one for peace. Then nine doves that had been kept in a wooden box were set free, fluttering away toward the Manhattan skyline but then circling back, in unison, to fly over the pit, as if their flight were choreographed by the event planners.

    Earlier, the Rev. Brian Jordan, a Roman Catholic priest who has been leading services at ground zero since September, celebrated the last Sunday Mass at the disaster site.

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