In two weeks, the city will mark the 16th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. But at The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, a different kind of remembrance quietly takes place every day of the year - thanks to two men who make sure no victim is forgotten. NY1's Michael Scotto tells this story for the first time, in the following report:
Every morning of every day, with no fanfare or publicity, a simple tribute takes place at the 9/11 Memorial.
A single white rose is placed on the name of every victim who would be celebrating a birthday.
It started four years ago.
"It was something subtle, something poignant. Just a small gesture just to remind visitors that these victims had lives, they had birthdays just like us," says Sean Evans, who works at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Evans' morning begins by flipping through a binder to find out how many people were born on that particular day.
There are 2,983 people to honor throughout the year - victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks. So many names, they fill more than one book.
"These are four binders of names, of people. These were people," Evans says.
On the day we visit, there are four birthdays - four people who worked and died in the North and South towers.
Evans selects and prepares each flower, and then places it on each name.
On this day, Margaret L Benson, would be celebrating her 68th birthday.
Margaret Quinn Orloske would be turning 66.
Joseph O. Pick, 56.
And Alok Kumar Mehta. He died so young. He would be turning 39.
"They resonate as people because you're looking and you realize that with each name there's a whole lifetime of memories, friends, family," Evans says.
Evans was in college on Long Island when the attack happened, but he has a connection to it. His father was working here that day - in Four World Trade Center. He got out safely. Since then, Evans says he has always wanted to give back.
"When we say, 'never forget,' it's not something we say as a phrase, it's something we strive for every day," he says.
That desire to give back is why Michael Collarone is also part of this tribute. The TriBeCa florist was standing outside his shop when the first plane crashed into the North Tower. He raced to help out and to capture the disaster on film.
"When you look through these photos, what goes through your mind 16 years later? I still have, I can recall every second that happened from both planes going in to both buildings coming down," Collarone says.
Collarone now donates every white birthday rose.
He selects the roses at the flower market, and then twice a week he delivers them to the memorial.
"It honors the victims. I don't think you can ease the pain of loss, but at least they know that they're being thought of," he says.
Every day, at least two victims are remembered.
Valentine's Day has the most birthdays - 17.
There are 15 on Christmas Eve.
On Sept. 11, six.
"For those people it was supposed to be a really great day because it was their birthday," Evans says.
Family members are moved by these quiet acts of remembrance.
"I feel a little close to her today," Ada Dolch says.
Dolch lost her sister Wendy Alice Rosario Wakeford on Sept. 11. Wakeford was an employee of Cantor Fitzgerald. She would have turned 56 this August.
"To see someone so tenderly put a flower, a beautiful one ...." He voice cracked with emotion. Just talking about the tribute makes Dolch tear up.
"When I think about the flower being placed on Wendy's name, you know, we didn't get there this year, but somebody is still caring for her, someone is still watching out for her."
For Wendy Alice Rosario Wakeford, and for all the victims of that day, now 16 years ago.