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New Yorkers' Memories of 9-11 Still Fresh Even After Two Years - 2003-09-12


As New Yorkers awoke to the two-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, most tended to their daily routines. But despite appearances, memories of the tragedy are still fresh.

Gail Warren, a 48-year-old nursery school teacher, was busy chasing two-year-old charge Xavier in Manhattan's Central Park. His giggles pierced the silence.

"It's a sad day," she said, "I lost a good friend who was a firefighter on 9-11 and I thought of him. Everybody is affected differently, depending on where you were or how the day was for you. I look up at the sky every time a plane goes by. There's an apprehension that I didn't have before."

Felicity Dell'quilla-Geyra was walking her dog nearby. The 70-year-old writer says she had intended to watch the televised ceremony in which 200 children who lost relatives in the World Trade Center read the names of the 2,792 victims at Ground Zero.

"To hear those children reading names on television was just so moving, I had to just leave the house and get away from it for a few minutes," she said. "Just what's happening in the world? The lack of humanity, killing people, it's getting to be a way of life that's shocking to me."

Others struggled to contain their emotions. Rachel Hatton is a 35-year-old stockbroker who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, a brokerage firm that lost nearly 700 of its employees in the attack.

"You know what, I'm sorry. I can't. I can't do this. I'm sorry, it's a bad day. It's a bad day to be doing this," he said.

Steve Popp, a Wall Street trader and friend of Hatton's, explained. "We were very intimately involved in what happened on September 11," he said. "We both knew a lot of people that we loved and who were our friends who died that day so it's been a tough week leading up to this day. Everyone has to deal with it in their own personal way. Some people might try to push it away. It might just be too tough for them to deal with."

Mr. Popp says his life perspective has changed dramatically in the last two years. "There was a naiveté that a lot of us had that was lost that day," he said. "I never would ever think that something like that would ever happen here. I worked seven blocks from the trade center, it just hit so close to home that innocence was lost, or whatever cliché you want to use. Now, I don't take as many things for granted as I used to either. My first child was born two months after September 11, so it put a lot of things into perspective which I guess in some demented, strange way was actually a positive, if that can be at all possible."

Ishmael Rosario raises money for New York's homeless. The 29-year-old says he fears people are starting to lose the emotional connection to the events of 9-11.

"When it happened, everybody was crying, and you felt the emotion, like, wow, maybe we've learned something, maybe it's time to start hugging each other instead of beating each other up," he said. "Unfortunately, I think it's gone right back to the same society. We just step on each other and step to where we got to go to. I think people forget too fast. They forget too fast."

Memorial ceremonies in New York City were punctuated by four moments of silence, marking the times when both towers were hit and when they collapsed.

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