NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks drew to a close Sunday night, low clouds diffused the twin beams of the Tribute in Light, spreading a halo over Lower Manhattan.
“It’s like we’re closer to heaven. That’s what I see. They’re closer to us. All those that passed are closer to us,” Brooklyn resident Ginny Katz told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
“I think it says something else, too, because look around, this city is still resilient. It’s still strong,” Howard Hooper of Germany added. “Even though that’s a ghastly reminder of what happened, it hasn’t bent the city. The city is still strong and I think it will survive and I think it will get stronger.”
Though the tribute echoes the original Twin Towers, thousands marked the solemn occasion in the shadow of a new World Trade Center.
LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports
The emotional ceremony began Sunday morning with the singing of the National Anthem by the Brooklyn Youth Choir followed by a procession of bagpipers from the Fire Department, Police Department and the Port Authority.
It’s been a decade of grief since that day of destruction. September 11, 2001 started as a crystal clear Tuesday morning but ended with raging fire and clouds of dust.
With the 9/11 memorial finally taking shape, this year’s ceremony was held at a place of peace. There is the reflecting pool, with water that falls into the voids of the towers, and the trees that surround it, reaching for the sky to where the towers once stood.
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President Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush, joined by their wives, arrived at the 9/11 memorial in New York City around 8 a.m.
Earlier Sunday morning, workers put the finishing touches on the memorial, which opened for the first time to victims’ families.
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The two walked around the reflecting pool, running their hands over the names of those killed, engraved in bronze, before stopping to speak with some of the families of 9/11 victims and dignitaries.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the first to speak at Sunday’s ceremony.
“They were our neighbors, our friends, our husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children and parents. They were the ones who rushed in to help,” said Bloomberg. “2,983 innocent men, women and children. Each had a face, a story, a life cut short from under them.”
He led the first moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time Flight 11 hit the north tower.
Obama then delivered the first reading, reciting Psalm 46 from the Bible.
“God is our refuge and strength,” he read. “He dwells in his city, does marvelous things and says, be still and know that I am God.”
Family members then took the podium and began reading the names of the 2,977 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Listen To The Ceremony:
Part 1 – Program begins, bagpippers and drummers with WTC flag, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, moment of silence (AA#11), President Barack Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Reading of names begins.
Part 2 – Moment of silence (United # 175), Former President George W. Bush, Peter Negron, Yo-Yo Ma plays Bach, Honor Guard.
Part 3 – Mayor Michael Bloomberg, moment of silence (AA # 77), Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Former NYPD officer James Smith and daughter Patricia Smith, James Taylor sings “Close Your Eyes.”
Part 4 – Moment of silence (fall of south tower), Gov. Chris Christie, solo flautist Emi Ferguson performs “Amazing Grace.”
Part 5 – Moment of silence (United # 93), Former Gov. George Pataki.
Part 6 – Moment of silence (fall of north tower), former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Debra Epps, Paul Simon performs “Sounds of Silence.”
Part 7 – Former Gov. Donald DiFrancesco.
Part 8 – Reading of names concludes, choral performance of “I Will Remember You,” Taps performed by four trumpeters (NYPD, FDNY, PAPD, and US military).
For the first time this year, the names of those killed on Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon and Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Penn., as well as the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, were also read aloud during the ceremony.
Of the family members who spoke Sunday was Peter Negron. His father worked on the 88th floor of the north tower. Peter was 11-years-old on Sept. 11th and heard about the attacks while he was sitting in class at school.
“I hope that I can make my father proud of the young men that my brother and I have become,” he said. “I miss you so much dad.”
2,977 people were killed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania and six were killed in the 1993 attack.
As the names of the victims were being read, family members gathered around the reflecting pool making pencil rubbings of their loved ones’ engravings.
The second moment of silence was at 9:03 a.m., the time Flight 175 hit the south tower.
Former President Bush then gave a reading, a letter written by Abraham Lincoln.
“I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom,” Bush read.
At 9:37 a.m., another moment of silence marking when Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo then took the stage.
“Freedom from fear anywhere in the world. That is our goal and our strength is in our unity of purpose,” Cuomo read. “To that high concept, there can be no end save victory.”
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The fourth moment of silence was at 9:59 a.m. when the south tower fell.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie then gave a reading followed by a rendition of Amazing Grace.
“If I should die and leave you here awhile, be not like others sore undone, who keep long vigil by the silent dust. For my sake, turn again to life and smile,” Christie read.
After reading several names, 12-year-old Patricia Smith honored her late mother Police Officer Moira Smith. “Mom, I am proud to be your daughter,” she said. “You will always be my hero.”
At 10:03 a.m. was the fifth moment of silence when Flight 93 crashed in a field near Shanksville, Penn.
Former New York Gov. George Pataki then spoke of the first responders who gave their lives on 9/11.
“May God bless those heroes we lost on Sept. 11th, the brave men and women who responded so courageously,” Pataki said. “The heroes we’ve lost since that date defending our freedom and the men and women today who risk their lives here and abroad to defend our freedom.”
Francesa Picerno talked of her father Matthew Picerno, who died at the trade center. “We miss and love you so much. I have your smile, your eyes, and your laugh, but I just don’t have you.”
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The sixth and final moment of silence came at 10:28 a.m. when the north tower fell.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was in office on Sept. 11th, then read a Bible verse from Ecclesiastes 3:4.
“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” Giuliani read.
He also said, “God bless every soul that we lost. And God guide us to our reunion in heaven. And God bless the United States of America.”
Former Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco of New Jersey also read a passage.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and singers James Taylor and Paul Simon also performed.
Overlooking the memorial was the world’s largest free-flying American flag, hanging on the south side of 1 World Trade Center.
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