Americans across the nation paused to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks. In New York, where nearly 3,000 people were killed at the World Trade Center Towers, victims' families participated in a solemn ceremony at Ground Zero.
Every year since the attacks, families of the victims have gathered at Ground Zero to remember their loss and read the names of the victims. In the past, parents, grandparents and children have read the names. This year New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced the reading by spouses and partners.
"Five years have come and gone and we still stand together as one," he said. "We come back to this place to remember the heartbreaking anniversary and each person who died here. This year we have asked their spouses, partners and significant others to lead the ceremonies, not in the first flush of despair, but with the saving grace of memory."
One hundred pairs of spouses and partners read the names of the victims as a background of flutes and violins underscored the somber nature of the occasion.
"Thomas F. McGinnes Junior. Patrick McGuire. Thomas M. McHale. Keith McHeffney. Ann M. McHugh. And my precious husband, firefighter Joseph Mascali, FDNY, Rescue Five, forever my Joey," a wife said.
As in previous years, church bells rang throughout the city to introduce four moments of silence to mark the exact times when the hijacked airplanes hit the towers and the moments when the towers collapsed.
"I am the husband of New York City police officer Moira Smith, who five years ago ran into the South Tower because she believed that a life lived in the service of others is a life worth living. And that is how she would want our daughter Patricia to remember her. I am honored to have been her husband and grateful to have our child to raise, helping her to understand that her mother was, and still is, the pride of New York City," said Smith.
Throughout the ceremony family members placed flowers in the reflecting pools at the site.
Sunday, President and Mrs. Bush placed a wreathe at the site and attended one of the many memorial services around the city. They observed the first moment of silence Monday at a nearby firehouse. The President's itinerary included wreathe laying ceremonies at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where a fourth airplane crashed into a field after passengers wrested control from the hijackers.
Ground Zero is currently a construction site, but unlike at past memorials, buildings have now begun to rise. New tenants already occupy the first completed building, World Trade Center Number Seven.