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Memorial Service in New York Honors Victims of 9/11 Attacks

Ten years ago, the United States homeland came under attack. Islamic terrorists flew hijacked passenger planes into the two World Trade Center towers in New York and another into the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C. A fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Sunday, family members attended a 10-year anniversary memorial service, where they were the first to tour the 6.5-hectare site on the original World Trade Center location.

Dawn over New York City. Gorgeous. And, promising. Just like it was 10 years ago until terrorists interrupted a sunny September morning. Family members gathered at the same spot where their loved ones died.

At 8:46 a.m. there was silence to remember when the first plane struck the World Trade Center's North Tower.

President Barack Obama read a psalm from the Bible.

"Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea."

Then, family members and friends started reading the long list of victims.

At 9:03 a.m., silence again to mark the moment when the second plane hit the South Tower.

The was more silence for when the third plane hit the Pentagon, the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, the fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania and when the North Tower collapsed.

Security was tight because of a new terrorist threat. Streets were closed. Police lined the sidewalks.

But inside the memorial, family members say they felt the tranquility of trees and waterfalls, set within the footprints of where the towers once stood.

Mary Jane Maounis lost her brother James. She walked inside the memorial with her younger brother.

"He was looking down at the water to see where the water was in the pool and as he was looking down, his hand was leaning on the ledge and that's where his hand was, right on his name."

Maounis says right then, she felt she and her brother were together again, for the first time since that day 10 years ago. James was killed as the plane hit the south tower. He was on the 90th floor. She was on the 62nd.

"I had a hard time at first, why it was not me and why him and going through all those emotions. But now, at this time, I realize that's how life is sometimes and I guess there are reasons for it."

Eric Oertel traveled from Michigan to bring his children here. They weren't even born when his good friend, Christopher Ingrossia, died in the attack. Oertel says Christopher would have liked the 400 trees and the ever flowing water of the reflecting pools.

"He was a forward thinking guy. I think he would like the flip side - that life goes on. People move on."

Separate ceremonies are being held today at the Pentagon and the crash site of the fourth hijacked plane near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

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    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.