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Thread: Anniversary a Day Full of Emotion

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    Administrator Neil's Avatar
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    Anniversary a Day Full of Emotion

    Anniversary a day full of emotion
    Thursday, September 12, 2002

    By Dan Barry
    THE NEW YORK TIMES


    NEW YORK-- They followed one another down, down into a seven-story hole in Lower Manhattan yesterday, thousands of them, filling with their sorrow the space where their husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, had died a year ago to the day. Some left cut flowers on the hard earth; some left photo-graphs; some left whispered words.
    They lingered for a long while; a few even collected stones. And then the people who have become known as the

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    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    They crowd into Pit to mourn - and remember

    They crowd into Pit to mourn - and remember


    By GREG GITTRICH
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

    As a roll call of the dead echoed through Ground Zero yesterday, a sad procession of families descended into the void where their loved ones perished a year ago.

    It took two hours and 29 minutes to read the names of everyone killed Sept. 11, far longer than terrorists needed to bring the twin towers down.

    Clutching photographs of their slain loved ones, relatives of the 2,801 victims searched for something tangible to take from the sacred earth.

    They drifted across the scarred 16 acres, seemingly looking for the exact place where their mother, father, sister, brother or child died that day.

    Many left flowers, photographs and hand-written notes in a large circle at the floor of The Pit. Several fell to their knees and grabbed handfuls of dirt. Others wept or whispered prayers for the 1,399 victims who have yet to be found.

    "This is where my brother is, so this is where I have to be," said Laurie Vigeant, who waited patiently near the top of a 515-foot steel ramp - the same path used by recovery workers for nine months to carry out the dead.

    "They never found his body," she said of her brother Gary Frank, 35, who worked in the south tower. "This is where he is. There will be no closure for me."

    The emptiness of Ground Zero, cleared months ago of 1.8 million tons of tortured wreckage, struck Lillian Bini. Her son, Rescue 5 Firefighter Carl Bini, died there.

    "Right now, we're looking at nothing," Bini said, holding an empty cigar box she planned to fill with soil. "I miss my son. I wish he was here. I can't believe he's gone. I can't believe it's a year. I feel he's still going to come home."

    Sacred silence

    From the moment the city fell silent at 8:46 a.m. - exactly 12 months after the first hijacked jet struck the World Trade Center - a strong wind rushed over Ground Zero, lifting great clouds of dust into the heavens.

    The wind - at times both furious and uplifting - refused to relent, coating the thousands with powder during the nearly three-hour ceremony.

    "My son is kicking up the dust," said Maureen Santora of Astoria, Queens, her eyes wet after hearing the name of her fallen boy - Christopher Santora - read aloud. "He's saying, 'Please don't worry. I'm in a better place.'"

    The families began arriving yesterday before dawn, and by 7 a.m., nearly two hours before the start of the ceremony, about 1,000 of them filled a waiting area on West St.

    Their numbers would swell at least threefold before the first skirl was heard from the Fire Department's pipe and drum corps at 7:39 a.m. Even more would arrive later.

    The ceremony began with a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., introduced by Mayor Bloomberg. Gov. Pataki followed the pause by reading the Gettysburg Address. Then, as cellist Yo-Yo Ma played Bach, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani began the recitation of the victims' names.

    "Gordon M. Aamoth Jr.," Giuliani said. The 32-year-old worked for investment firm Sandler O'Neill & Partners on the south tower's 104th floor.

    Among the 196 readers who followed Giuliani were relatives of the dead, survivors of the attack, workers who cleared the rubble, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, actor Robert De Niro and former Mayor David Dinkins.

    At 9:03 a.m., the moment the second tower was hit, the roll call paused for the ringing of a ceremonial bell.

    Marianne Keane, 17, whose stepfather, Franco Lalama, a Port Authority engineer, died in the attack, stood at the microphone.

    "I would give anything to go back to the morning of Sept. 11 and tell him how much I appreciated everything he's done for me," she said. "But I think he knows that now. In my eyes, he died a hero. And how much more could you ask for?"

    The reading of the names paused again at 9:59 a.m., when the south tower collapsed, and then at 10:29 a.m., when the north tower fell.

    At that moment, nearby church bells rang out and horns on boats in the Hudson River groaned.

    Wanda Ortiz, who had stood tall until then, began to shake. Her hands squeezed the handle of a double stroller that cradled her fatherless 18-month-old twins. "This is a nightmare, a total nightmare," she said.

    When the name of her slain husband, Emilio Ortiz, was read over a loudspeaker moments later, his sister Milagros Ortiz, 35, cried out in pain.

    "No, no, no," she shouted, standing in a crowd of mourners on the western edge of The Pit. "Not my brother. They killed my brother."

    The reading of names ended with Igor Zukelman, 29, who worked at Fiduciary Trust Company International in the north tower.

    'Fitting and beautiful'

    Many of those who attended said they were pleased with the ceremony.

    "We are mortal people made of dust," said Veronica Velez, 25, who placed a flower on the uneven bedrock floor for her slain cousin Jennifer DeJesus, 24, of Brooklyn. "It was fitting and beautiful."

    Bloomberg served as the de facto master of ceremonies.

    "One year ago the ground were are standing on shook and the earth gave way," he said. "Although the buildings fell, the foundation on which all Americans stand never fell. For it is the sacred principle of freedom and equality on which we build our lives."

    At the end of the ceremony, Bloomberg gave way to New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, who read an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence.

    The ceremony closed with the playing of taps, but some families lingered throughout the day.

    Altagracia Munoz, 62, of Corona, Queens, descended into The Pit hoping for answers about her son, Frank Munoz, whose body has not been found.

    She placed flowers in an area dubbed the Circle of Honor and left her son's missing poster.

    But when it was over yesterday, she knew as much as she did Sept. 11 about what had happened to her Frank.

    "Nothing," his heartbroken mother said.


    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/sept...0p-17270c.html

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