NEW YORK — Family members and loved ones of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks gathered under misty skies at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan on Tuesday to honor the legacies of those lost by reading their names aloud in a somber ritual repeated each year on the anniversary of the attacks.
Under the shade of the swamp white oak trees at the memorial site, the family members stood at two glass podiums and read the names of 2,983 men, women and children killed in the 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and aboard Flight 93, as well as those who died in the Feb. 26, 1993, bombing at the World Trade Center.
Behind their voices was the sound of water falling into the memorial pools. A silver bell was rung and a moment of silence honored at six moments during the ceremony — twice to mark the times that each plane hit the towers, twice to mark the time when each tower fell, one to mark the attack on the Pentagon and one for Flight 93.
At 8:42 a.m., an honor guard with members from the New York Police Department, Fire Department and Port Authority Police Department marched to the podium holding a large American flag that was damaged in the attacks. At 8:46 a.m., a moment of silence marked the first plane hitting the north tower. Then the reading of the names began. It would take more than three hours to complete.
After each group of names, readers offered personal words of remembrance. “To my nephew and friend, firefighter Peter J. Carroll, we all love you and miss you, especially your smile,” said Charles Guigno.
“My husband, Benjamin Keefe Clark, you will always be our hero, you will always be loved, you will always be missed,” said La-Shawn Clark. “We thank you for the legacy and the foundation that you set.” She explained how her husband was a chef who tried to carry a woman who was a paraplegic from the 88th floor of the south tower. “He never made it out, but he will always be our hero.”
Several people who spoke had never met the loved one they were honoring, a reminder of the 17 years that have passed since the attacks.
Natalie Rossinow spoke about her uncle, Norman Rossinow, who died at the World Trade Center.
“After hearing continuous stories told by my family, I’ve grown up knowing what a kind, compassionate and caring person he was,” she said. “It makes mad, sad and confused that such a terrible thing could happen to such an amazing person.”
Other speakers made references to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, including Chundera Epps, who lost her brother Christopher. Epps spoke about what he has missed over the past 17 years.
“We can’t forget,” she said. “Life won’t let us forget.”
Nicolas Haros, who lost his mother, Frances Haros, used his time to call on politicians and political commentators to stop using Sept. 11 as a cudgel to criticize each other. He was among several speakers who spoke about the continuing toll of the attacks on the survivors, family members and emergency medical workers.
“Please, stop using the bones and ashes of our loved ones as props in your political theater,” Haros said. “Their lives, sacrifices and deaths are worth so much more. Let’s not trivialize them, or us. It hurts.”