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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York, the nation and the world paused Tuesday to remember the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the Sept. 11th attacks 11 years ago.
Tuesday night, the Twin Towers of light were risen from lower Manhattan. The annual “Tribute in Light” honors those who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center.
The beams will shine through Tuesday evening before fading away at dawn on Wednesday. The “Tribute in Light” uses 88 searchlights and debuted after the attacks.
Organizers said the lights, which can be seen from miles outside the city, are best viewed when it is completely dark outside.
Earlier, families of the victims gathered at the site once known as ground zero, the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa.
The commemoration ceremony in New York City began with bagpipers and drummers leading the World Trade Center flag to the stage in what was seen as a largely scaled down remembrance.
Some that spoke with CBS 2′s Lou Young said the ceremony was less emotionally taxing, although some voice their opinion saying the full significance of the event was fading as the years went by.
The first of six moments of silence was held at 8:46 a.m., marking the time the first hijacked plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Bells tolled to mark the moments that planes hit the Twin Towers and when they fell.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reflects on a somber ceremony at ground zero
As the victims’ names were read, many relatives paused to place a flower on the memorial where their loved one’s name is inscribed around the reflecting pool. Others made rubbings of the engravings.
One woman who lost her sister said the remembrance was like ripping off a Band-Aid. Mary Ellen Marino lost her electrician father Lester. The 57-year-old was working in the north tower.
“Sometimes it’s comforting, sometimes it’s heartbreaking. And today? Not too bad, but who knows later today. It’s rocky,” she told CBS 2′s John Slattery.
Marisol Torres clutched a photo of her cousin, firefighter Manuel DelValle, Jr. of FDNY Engine Company 5, as she walked into the memorial plaza in lower Manhattan for the somber ceremony.
“For us, it’s like it was yesterday,” she said. ”Our hearts are still broken. We still miss him.”
Eleven years after the attacks, Torres said the ceremony is as tough as it was after the first year.
“I wish I could say it gets easier, but it doesn’t,” Torres said. “I think you learn to live with your grief so in some sense it gets easier but you sort of learn to carry that around with you.”
DelValle was 32 years old when he was killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center.
1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports
Jeanne Carey came to honor her husband, FDNY firefighter Dennis Carey.
“This is where they perished and family and friends, we all gather and come every year,” she said.
For the first time in New York City, elected officials did not speak at the commemoration ceremony. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in July that this year’s ceremony would only include relatives reading victims’ names.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports
Politicians still attended the ceremony, including former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Cuomo said the terror attacks changed New York and the nation forever.
“On this day, we honor the memories and the lives of those who were killed and the families who will never forget them,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We also honor the first responders who bravely put themselves in harm’s way, many of whom never returned home.”
He added that it is our duty and obligation to make sure we never forget.
“As a new generation grows up without having witnessed the horror of September 11th, it is important to educate our children so they can understand the tragedy that unfolded on that day, the bravery and courage of our first responders, and the outpouring of goodwill in communities across New York and America as we recovered as one state and one nation,” Cuomo said.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the World Trade Center has grown and once again dominates the Manhattan skyline.
One World Trade, as it is known, is already the tallest building in New York City. Once complete, it will become the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the third tallest in the world.
Tenants already include Conde Nast and federal office buildings.
“There’s a lot of progress and it is also a time of memory of what took place but also a time to chart how much progress we’ve made in getting back the city we love,” said Janno Lieber, president of World Trade Center properties.
Despite all the progress, there is unfinished business at ground zero. There is still no museum open to the public.
“It’s the place where the story will be told and without the museum, the memorial is really incomplete,” said Alice Greenwald, director of the 9/11 Museum.
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports
But now, an agreement has been reached between the Port Authority and the foundation that controls the 9/11 museum.
Bloomberg and Gov. Cuomo made the announcement on Monday.
“We’re going to build a museum that is really important to the families of the 9/11 victims and to all of those that contributed photos and mementos and trying to preserve the memories of those they loved that are no longer here,” said Bloomberg.
Once completed, the museum will showcase the faces behind the names of victims, their personal mementos and relics of September 11th.
Charles Wolfe, whose wife, Katherine, died in the north tower, said without the stories the memorial is an inadequate tribute to the victims’ sacrifice.
“This memorial is not just for the families, this memorial is not just for New York or the surrounding area, this memorial is for the world,” he said.
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