Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mourners Gather for Eighth Anniversary of 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

Officers carry flags to honor firefighters lost on 9/11.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer


MANHATTAN -- Eight years later, mourners still flock to the site where the twin towers once stood. Most come to remember the lives lost, but some come holding banners announcing conspiracy theories about what happened that day.

"Justice for the victims of 9/11," one man repeatedly shouted, while holding a sign with the same phrase.

Mourners passed by these protestors, who were watched carefully by officers and held back by barricades.

Family members placed flowers in the memorial reflecting pool at Zucotti Park as relatives and volunteers read names of the more than 2,700 people who lost their lives on 9/11. Those who weren't directly connected to someone lost in the towers still came to the site, some placing flowers or other mementos on the steps of St. Paul's Chapel.

"I come from England every two years, but this year I planned my trip around September 11," Brett Hartland, 26, of Birmingham, England said. "I brought these white roses to show my respect to the innocent victims of terrorism."

Kathy Robert, 49, of Dallas, Texas, was living in New York City when the attacks happened and can vividly recall how she felt that morning.

"I was driving into town and was listening to the reports on the radio," Robert said. "I knew I wouldn't get into the city with all the kayos. I knew this event would change everything."

Hartland said he experienced the ramifications of the attacks, even from across the Atlantic Ocean.

"The terrorist attacks didn't just affect Americans. It affected the world. That day changed all of our lives forever."

Strangers embraced and shared stories about their memories of the morning of 9/11. Many had their hands clasped together in prayer and even those headed to their Wall Street offices slowed down as they walked by, despite the somber weather.

"It doesn't matter how much time goes by, this event will always bring people together," Robert said. "Eight years later, the pain is still there. It will still be felt eighty years from now."

A woman, whose son was in the North Tower, said nothing keeps her from coming to the memorial service every year.

"This is a resting place for my son. We never found him, but I can feel him here."

This mother, who wouldn't identify herself, held tightly to the framed photo of her son.

"Today is a day about those who lost their lives in an honorable way and are no longer here with us," she said. "They gave us so much and we are here to respect and remember them, not make a name for ourselves."

Despite the negativity coming from the protesters just down the block from where she stood, she said she has no bitterness about what happened to her son.

"My son died happy," she said. "He wasn't doing something bad, like selling drugs or getting shot by a gang. He was working in a job he loved. He was lucky."

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