On the eighth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center site, a number of elected officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, joined the relatives of the nearly 3,000 victims in a memorial ceremony. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
Friday's wind gusts and steady drizzle made a sharp contrast with the clear skies eight years ago, although time hadn't dulled memory at Lower Manhattan's official memorial ceremony at the World Trade Center site.
"There's a special fraternity of those of us who've lost spouses and children," said Vice President Joe Biden, who was the highest elected official at the ceremony. "But there is also one thing all Americans know to be true, and which we remember most when we come to this site. In our joys and in our sorrows, we know we belong to one another."
Biden was marking his first September 11th as vice president, but past leaders of 2001 were also in attendance, like former Governor Rudy Giuliani.
When asked if he thought he was going to die during the September 11th terrorist attacks, Giuliani answered, "I did. Was I scared? I didn't have time. Every once in a while, it came into my head, that we could all die."
Aside from remembering, the task for leaders was to reassure, even though outside the World Trade Center area the city looked like most any other rainy late summer day.
"Most New Yorkers after eight years, you know, somehow or another we don't focus on it," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who assumed his office almost four months after the attacks. "I don't think it's forgetting the tragedy. But I think that most New Yorkers do feel safe."
"And we as a country have spent the last eight years trying to protect this nation, again, making sure we're safe, and making sure that the lives that were lost were not lost in vain," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Amid all of the unity, there is some disagreement, notably over reconstruction at the 16-acre site of the Twin Towers.
Construction work now leaves the towers' footprints off-limits, and Governor David Paterson was quick to point out the quickened pace.
"And if we can come that far in just this year, and if we can now say that if everyone stays on track, that we will have a tenth-year memorial [by September 11, 2011], that will be appropriate for that occasion," said the governor.
Giuliani, though, said a "basic mistake" was made at the beginning of the ceremony, "not to focus on the memorial exclusively."
Reporters asked the former mayor whether he will for governor next year, but Giuliani would not approach the matter.
"What I would say is I'm not going to talk about that today," said Giuliani. "And I'm not ready to make a decision anyway so it wouldn't be useful to talk about it."
Other candidates, including those running in Tuesday's primary, refrained from overtly campaigning, though some updated their Twitter accounts.
"It's a day to remember. I think that makes sense," said Senator Charles Schumer.