NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For the families of 9/11 victims, this year brought a new experience at the World Trade Center with the official opening of the 9/11 memorial.
During the 10th anniversary ceremony Sunday morning, families entered the memorial for the first time.
The memorial features twin reflecting pools with waterfalls that flow into the voids of the Twin Towers. Surrounding the pools are the names of the nearly 3,000 victims of the attack, etched in bronze.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan reports
Now, families have a place to go to see their loved ones’ names.
“It’s going to mean a lot to our family,” said one man who lost his brother on 9/11. “Someplace where we can just sit and reflect on what the day was and what the family misses.”
Families may have been anxious going into the memorial Sunday, but as they emerged, most had a sense of peace.
“It was nice. It was like kind of closure,” said another man. “It was something you could go back to and see his name there.”
LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports
“It seems like yesterday and it seems like a hundred years ago,” said Perry Sikorsky.
For him, seeing his brother’s name, firefighter Gregory Sikorsky, in bronze at the 9/11 memorial is a defining moment.
“I think the way they did the names, not necessarily in alphabetical order, the architect it looked like he spent a lot of time putting names with associates. I thought that was really special,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
His brother’s son turned 3-years-old just a few days after the attacks. Now, he has a place to take his nephew.
“I have great pride when I talk to him about his father. It makes me feel good because I have nothing but good memories of my brother. So it’s not hard talking about his father and you can see he’s very interested,” Perry said.
Just steps away from the new memorial, missing persons fliers covered the wrought iron gates at St. Paul’s Chapel on Sept. 11, 2001. Today, thousands of white ribbons flutter in the breeze.
The Bell of Hope at St. Paul’s is only rung on this day.
“Five years, ten years, the pain doesn’t go away because you never got a chance to say goodbye. You never got a chance to get that last hug or kiss. So, it’s like the wound closes a little bit, opens back up, closes, but it never completely heals,” said a woman who lost her brother-in-law Harry Glenn on 9/11.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports
She finds comfort in the memorial as a quiet place for contemplation and prayer.
“The water coming down because Harry loved the beach,” she said.
Her nephew has a place to go. He too was just 3-years-old when his father was killed.
“It seems like it was just last year to me. I can’t believe how quickly the ten years went. It just seems like it’s still a kind of blur,” said Margaret Stajk.
She said her son, firefighter Gregory Stajk, was a character and a gentleman.
“We all continue, but’s still hard. At the Christmas table, there’s one person always missing,” said Gregory’s sister Ellen, who notes the difference this year. “I think it’s especially final because we know the person responsible is gone now. So, that’s comfort to us.”
Margaret finds the memorial fitting.
“I’m totally pleased and it just looks absolutely wonderful,” she said.
To get your tickets to visit the memorial, visit its official website.
What do you think of the 9/11 Memorial? Sound off below in the comments section.