The city came together Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Vice President Joe Biden joined other dignitaries and New Yorkers to honor the victims at a memorial ceremony near the World Trade Center site.
On a sunny day that resembled the fateful day of the terrorist attacks, family members and workers who are building the September 11th Memorial and Museum gathered at the city's official memorial ceremony in Zuccotti Park, to read aloud the names of the thousands who died in the Twin Towers.
"I love you, and if love could have saved all of these people, then everybody would live forever," said a family member after reading a portion of the names.
The workers' participation underlined how far rebuilding efforts have come at the World Trade Center site in the past year.
Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor David Paterson, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former Governor George Pataki were among the dignitaries who incorporated inspirational poems into their remarks.
"The structure that we raze, time is with materials filled. Our todays and yesterdays are blocks with which we build," said Biden, quoting the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Moments of silence were held at 8:46 and 9:03 a.m., when the planes hit the towers, and at 9:59 and 10:28 a.m., when each tower fell.
"We have returned to this sacred site to join our hearts together with the names of those we loved and lost. No other public tragedy has cut our city so deeply," said Bloomberg as he introduced the first moment of silence. "No other place is filled with our compassion, our love and our solidarity. It is with the strength of these emotions, as well as the concrete, glass and steel that is brought in day by day, that we will build on the footprints of the past the foundation of the future."
Thousands of family members of victims, many clutching pictures of their departed loved ones, went down to the site of the World Trade Center and left roses on the surface of a pool. Some even considered the site of the attacks to be a graveyard, as so many victims' remains have not yet been recovered.
They told NY1 that the sense of loss still remains fresh after nine years.
"It's still hard, you know? It's like yesterday. You just think about it and all the disaster that's going on, but you just keep them in your heart," said one victim's family member.
"The amount, the depth of the pain is still so evident nine years later. And really, I think it will never change, never change for those of us who have lost loved ones," said another.
"You can't help it, but you stand there and you look up. It's like you have a photographic memory, you know exactly what happened that day," said a third. "You will never forget that."
The mourners also signed the beams that are being installed at the site. The September 11th memorial is expected to be open for next year's anniversary.
Nearby, at St. Paul's Chapel, church officials rang their "Bell of Hope" to remember the attacks' victims as clergy and congregants offered prayers and reflection to honor those killed in the attacks.
The Bell of Hope was rung at 8:46 a.m. in a pattern of "four-fives," or five strikes repeated four times. It is the New York City Fire Department's traditional salute to the fallen.
St. Paul's is called "The Little Church That Stood," because it is directly across from the World Trade Center site and went mostly unscathed by falling debris that day.
The church was a sanctuary for rescue and recovery efforts after the Twin Towers fell, and for eight months afterwards the chapel was home to volunteer relief efforts.
"To come from their very difficult work across the street to be able to eat, rest, have their feet massaged, care for them -- body, soul and spirit," said Anne Mallonee, the vicar of St. Paul's Chapel.
Lower Manhattan's "Tribute In Light" is scheduled to shine from 7 p.m. Saturday until Sunday dawn. Two banks of 88 separate spotlights are used to create two beams over Lower Manhattan, evoking the Twin Towers.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama attended a ceremony at the Pentagon, where 184 people died on September 11th when a hijacked plane hit the building. He called on the nation to treat September 11th as a day of service and remembrance.
Heeding the president's words, many New Yorkers performed volunteer work on Saturday to turn the day's attention on the least fortunate.
Thousands brought a politically-charged atmosphere to Lower Manhattan by participating in rallies both in support and against a the planned Park51 Islamic cultural center, two blocks from the World Trade Center site.
Extra police officers were on hand to keep demonstrators in line.
When asked about the proposed mosque, many families of September 11th victims told NY1 that it is unfortunate that the controversy has intruded on what they want to be a quiet day of remembrance for their loved ones.
Meanwhile, the Florida pastor who canceled a plan to burn Korans on September 11th came to Manhattan to try to meet with Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the Park51 Center.
Terry Jones arrived at LaGuardia Airport on Friday night and told NBC's "Today" show on Saturday that his church would "not ever" burn a Koran.
Rauf said a meeting is not planned, but he is willing to see anyone who is "seriously committed to pursuing peace."
Protests against the pastor's canceled event took place in Afghanistan Friday and Saturday.