Thousands of mourners gathered at the site of the September 11 terrorist attack on New York's World Trade Center Sunday for an Interfaith memorial service to bid farewell to the more than 4,500 victims of the attack.
Family members waved flags and held photographs of their loved ones, as opera star Renee Fleming sang "God Bless America," the patriotic song that was made popular decades ago by a Broadway musical and has now gained renewed popularity since September 11.
About 3,000 people attended the tear-filled ceremony, at what is now known as "Ground Zero," the site of the attack on New York's downtown financial center. Smoldering fires still burn under the ruins of the World Trade Center office complex, creating a stench in the air.
For weeks families have buried their dead and attended memorial services for those missing in the tragedy. Across the metropolitan New York area hundreds of memorial concerts and other events have promoted unity and raised funds to help victims' families. Sunday's televised ceremony was designed as a final farewell, with attendance at the World Trade Center site limited to family and friends of those lost.
There were no speeches at the simple hour-long commemoration, which included music from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and opera singer Andrea Bocelli, as well as comments from religious leaders.
A local Muslim cleric led a prayer asking for comfort for the families and peace for people of all religions. "Let us stand together in faith," he said, "and not let our faith be used in such ways. History shows our faiths have been used by wrongdoers, by wicked people. They cannot use our faiths and do these terrible things. Let us as religious leaders stand firm together and not let the differences split us apart. We are one human family."
At the end of the ceremony, families were given wooden urns containing soil from the site - a tragic reminder that the site is the final resting place for many of those crushed by the steel and concrete of the toppled buildings. So far, the remains of less than 600 victims have been recovered.