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Archive for Sunday, September 12, 2004

Families recite mournful roll call

September 12, 2004

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— Their voices breaking, parents and grandparents of those lost on Sept. 11 stood at the World Trade Center site Saturday and marked the third anniversary of the attacks by reciting the names of the 2,749 people who died there.

The list took more than three hours, punctuated by tearful dedications when the readers reached the names of their own lost loved ones.

"We miss you very much, we love you very much, and we'll never forget you because you're in our hearts forever," said Stewart D. Wotton, looking skyward and remembering his son, Rodney James Wotton.

Four moments of silence were observed at 8:46, 9:03, 9:59 and 10:29 a.m., the precise times that the two planes slammed into the buildings and when they collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Bells tolled at the moment hijacked Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pa. A moment of silence was observed at the Pentagon for the 184 victims there. And President Bush stood in silence on the White House lawn to mark the third anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

For those at ground zero, the pain remained fresh. Pat Hawley, 44, said he came to the ceremony every year to remember his older sister, Karen Sue Juday.

"It seems like it gets harder every year, because it's that much more time since I've been able to talk to my sister and be with her," said Hawley, of Charlotte, N.C.

Hundreds of family members descended a long ramp into ground zero, sobbing, embracing each other and tossing a layer of roses onto two square reflecting pools meant to evoke the fallen twin towers.

Some wore images of their lost loved ones on T-shirts, others held large pictures aloft.

Members of New York City essential services are the first to place
flowers in the reflecting pool at the base of the former twin
towers of the World Trade Center on the third anniversary of the
attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

Members of New York City essential services are the first to place flowers in the reflecting pool at the base of the former twin towers of the World Trade Center on the third anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

"It's just a place to reconnect," said Anne Allen, 58, of Fort Lee, N.J., whose brother, Salvatore Pepe, was killed at the trade center. "This is where he was last."

Reading from two lecterns, the parents and grandparents provided a bookend to last year's anniversary ceremony, when children of attack victims read the list of names.

The relatives read the list slowly and precisely above violin strains; some hugged when they finished their portion of the list.

"Our loving son, Paul Robert Eckna, our tower of strength -- we love and miss you," said Carol Eckna.

"We miss your big smile, Kev," said Mike Williams, recalling his son, Kevin Michael Williams.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Gov. George Pataki and others gave readings with a clear theme: the inexpressible grief of losing a child. Pataki quoted President Dwight Eisenhower: "There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were."

When it ended, a chorus of children sang and two trumpeters -- one each from the police and fire departments -- played Taps.









At Arlington National Cemetery, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joined relatives of those killed in the Pentagon near a large granite marker that bears the names of each victim. Family members laid flags at the marker and ran their fingers across the names inscribed.

In a field in western Pennsylvania where Flight 93 went down, volunteers rang two large bells as the names of each of the plane's 40 passengers and crew were read.

"We know that no words, no memorials, nothing can take the place of all that you have lost," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said to the victims' families at the ceremony.

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