Church bells tolled throughout New York as the city marks the second anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. New Yorkers are commemorating the victims of the attack with a quiet ceremony focusing on the families - especially the children - of the victims.
City officials say children are playing a primary role in this year's commemoration because they show that the spirit of the city lives on. Two hundred children who lost relatives in the attack are reading the names of the almost 3,000 dead and performing music throughout the solemn ceremony. Family members and a handful of officials are reading poems. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg read from the poem The Names, by former poet laureate Billy Collins.
"Names etched on the head of a pin, one name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel. A blue name needled into the skin. Names of citizens, workers, others and fathers. The bright-eyed daughter. The quick son. Alphabet of names in a green field. Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory. So many names there is barely room on the walls of the heart," read Mayor Bloomberg.
As they did last year, victims' families are slowly making their way down a ramp to the lowest level of the once mighty Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, placing flowers in a pool of water on the ground that holds the remains of loved ones.
The ceremony began in silence, pausing four times to mark the moments when the hijacked airliners slammed into the two towers and the time when each building collapsed.
Honor guards representing police and firefighters and representatives of the victim's families are participating in the official ceremony.
This year, many families members are not attending the ceremony. Instead, they are taking part in private ceremonies being held across the city, its suburbs and New Jersey.