NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — As bells tolled solemnly, Americans marked the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Wednesday with the reading of the names, moments of silence and serene music that have become tradition.
At a morning ceremony on the 2-year-old memorial plaza at the site of the World Trade Center, relatives recited the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died when hijacked jets crashed into the twin towers and the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa., as well as the 1993 trade center bombing victims’ names.
Christina Aceto read the name of her father, Richard Anthony Aceto.
“Daddy, I miss you so much, and I think about you every day,” Aceto said. “You were more than just my daddy, you were my best friend.”
For many, the hallowed ground and the statements were made not to the assembled audience, but expressed directly to the fallen, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.
To a father: “Thank you for the amazing memories and spoiling us every Friday after school. Daddy, Brian, mommy and I miss you very much and we try to live a life that would make you, ‘captain adrenaline, ’very proud.”
To a beloved cousin: “You are my true inspiration to give a hundred percent and my guardian angel. I love you and God bless.”
To a son: “I love you. I miss you. Keep your father in line up there. Scott, we could’ve used a little summer breeze, but you know we love you and miss you.”
To a mother: “Mom, you got seven new grandchildren that you never met and need to be spoiled by their grandmother.”
Bells tolled to mark the planes hitting the towers, the Pentagon and near Shanksville and the moments when the towers fell.
“As time passes and our family grows, our children remind us of you,” Angilic Casalduc said of her mother, Vivian Casalduc. “We miss you.”
Loved ones milled around the memorial site, making rubbings of names, putting flowers by the names of victims and weeping, arm-in-arm.
WCBS employees Isaias Rivera and Robert Pattison were engineers who worked at our transmitter site at One World Trade.
They were on the 110th floor at the time the hijacked plane hit the tower.
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki were in attendance, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Giuliani said he’ll never forget the sight of people fleeing from the falling towers.
“The first place I got out of my car was one block away and the first sight that I saw were people being hit by debris, being killed,” he said. “That memory never leaves you. It stays with you forever.”
Before the start of Wednesday’s ceremony, Cuomo, musician Billy Joel, firefighters and others joined in a tribute motorcycle ride from a Manhattan firehouse to ground zero.
“No matter how many years pass, this time comes around each year and it’s always the same,” said Karen Hinson of Seaford, N.Y., who lost her 34-year-old brother, Michael Wittenstein, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee.
“My brother was never found, so this is where he is for us,” she said as she arrived for the ceremony with her family early Wednesday.
“I’ll be here every year to honor all the loved ones that we’ve lost,” Rob Fasio told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.
Fasio’s father, Ron, stayed behind so others could escape the south tower. The Fasios started the Hold The Door Foundation in Ron’s honor, which helps people deal with grief and loss.
“It’s a great thing to see people healing in healthy ways, to see children learning about Sept. 11, to see the city becoming stronger. So I do feel like it’s a good thing to see people in less pain and with more hope,” Fasio said.
David Jones of Brooklyn was at the World Trade Center on Wednesday morning to honor his brother who was killed 12 years ago.
“We all looked up to him, he was the rock. Every year I’m here. It’s all I can do,” he said. “It’s hard every day. Never forget this, could never forget this.”
“It’s a little bit harder because life goes on for everybody else, but it doesn’t go on for us,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.
Continuing a decision made last year, no politicians spoke, including Bloomberg.
Name-reading, wreath-laying and other tributes were also held at the Pentagon and at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville.
Around the world, thousands of volunteers have pledged to do good deeds, honoring an anniversary that was designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance in 2009.
Memorial organizers expect to take primary responsibility for the ceremony next year and say they plan to continue concentrating the event on victims’ loved ones, even as the forthcoming museum creates a new, broader framework for remembering 9/11.
“As things evolve in the future, the focus on the remembrance is going to stay sacrosanct,” memorial President Joe Daniels says.
While the memorial honors those killed, the museum is intended to present a broader picture of 9/11, including the experiences of survivors and first responders.
But the organizers expect they “will always keep the focus on the families on the anniversary,” Daniels said.
Even 12 years later, 41 percent of the remains recovered at ground zero are still not identified. Earlier this year, the medical examiner’s office began phase four of its operation sifting through those remains, hoping to identify more victims.
“This is my son’s cemetery,” Clyde Frazier Sr., whose son, Clyde Frazier Jr., died in the attack and whose remains were never found, told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang. “He didn’t have anything left. They didn’t give me anything.”
Back in April, a huge, 250-pound piece of a jetliner, believed to be one of the 9/11 planes, was found wedged between two buildings. At the time, the medical examiner said no human remains were found with the wreckage.
With police barricades blocking access to the site, life around the World Trade Center looked like any other morning, with workers rushing to their jobs and construction cranes looming over the area.
One World Trade Center is scheduled to be completed in early 2014. In May, crews installed the final piece of the crowning spire making it an iconic 1,776 feet tall.
“It’s an amazing project,” said Dyker Heights resident and construction worker Joe Welsh. “The underground is like a new city, rising from what happened.”
Also in the works are two more office towers, a transportation hub and a performing arts center — all with state of the art security features.
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