After more than eight months, rescue workers have ended a round-the-clock clean up at the site of the worst terror attack in U.S. history, marking the occasion with a solemn ceremony that drew thousand of relatives and onlookers. The nation - and New York - turned the page from recovery efforts to questions about what will now become of the site called ground zero.
An honor guard bearing a flag-draped but empty stretcher representing those still missing from last September's attacks slowly makes its way up from the floor of the huge pit now cleared of nearly two million tons of twisted steel and concrete that had been the World Trade Center.
There were no speeches in a ceremony that began at exactly 10:29 a.m., the moment on that clear morning last September 11 when the second of the two towers - both struck by hijacked airliners - collapsed, taking the lives of 2,800 people and ushering America into a war against terrorism.
As thousands looked on, a bell rang in memory of the more than 300 fire fighters who were killed when they rushed to the flaming towers. Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, credited with holding New York City together in its darkest hour, was among the many politicians and relatives attending Thursday's solemn ceremony.
The remains of more than 1,700 people were never recovered from the rubble raising questions for relatives about whether the twin towers site should be rebuilt or become a memorial.