Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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City Marks 12 Years Since World Trade Center Attacks

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Wednesday marked 12 years since the September 11th attacks, and as usual, a ceremony was held in Lower Manhattan in memory of the victims.

The event began with a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time when the first plane hit the North Tower.

Family members of victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks then read the names of those who died.

Moments of silence were also observed at the time when the second plane hit the South Tower and at the times each tower fell.

For many, attending the ceremony has become a sad tradition, with time not necessarily healing the wounds suffered that day.

"There is no closure. You lost a loved one. What are you going to do? You just persevere," said Pat McGovern, whose brother was killed in the attacks.

"I feel cheated of all the years of missing him and the relationship that we had," said Michelle Martinez, whose brother was killed in the attacks.

Most family members agreed that the ceremony provides some comfort and acts as a reminder to people of what happened when our world changed forever.

"There's a lot of children today that were born after 9/11, and they just don't understand this piece of history, so it helps solidify and enforce that point of recognition," Martinez said.

"I come here every year, so yes, it does bring peace to me," McGovern said.

The solemn anniversary was also marked by a day of service, with volunteers doing everything from cleaning and painting firehouses to preparing care packages for active military service members.

In addition, the "Tribute in Light" was set to return Wednesday evening.

Two beams of light reached into the sky over Lower Manhattan, re-creating the image of the Twin Towers.

The lights came on at sunset and will fade away Thursday at dawn.

Earlier in the day, city firefighters gathered to pay tribute to their fallen comrades.

Fire commissioner Salvatore Cassano was the only high-ranking first responder to respond to the attacks and survive.

He was the department's operations chief at the time.

During a wreath laying ceremony in Manhattan, the commissioner reflected on how much the events 12 years ago shaped the FDNY of today.

"The department was devastated, but as you heard me speak to our members here, it's because of the commitment that the members of this department showed, their dedication, this department is stronger and better trained and better equipped than ever before. But we do that in memory of everybody that was lost on September 11th," Cassano said.

The city lost 343 firefighters during the attacks.

Sixty-seven died later as a result of complications from rescue and recovery efforts.

The New York City Police Department also took a moment Wednesday to pay tribute to its own fallen comrades.

Officers gathered in front of precincts across the city to hear a roll call of the 23 names of officers killed in the line of duty or who died from medical complications as a result of their service that day.

Meanwhile, in Washington, President Barack Obama observed a moment of silence on the White House lawn.

He was joined by the first lady, Vice President Joe Biden and members of the White House staff to remember the moment the first plane collided with the North Tower.

It was followed by the playing of Taps.

A moment of silence was held at the Pentagon.

American Airlines Flight 77 crashed at 9:37 a.m.

President Obama said the nation's hearts still ache for the futures that were stolen.

The president also laid a wreath at the Pentagon.

The brave passengers of United Flight 93 were also honored at a ceremony in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Bells tolled and the names of the 40 people killed were read aloud.

Flight 93 was hijacked after leaving Newark, N.J.

It crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after the passengers and crew attempted to regain control of the plane.

A memorial wall has been constructed near the crash site.

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