Today a memorial service was held at the site where the World Trade Center once stood. Security was, of course, very tight. A chorus of children sang. A small orchestra played. Politicans spoke. The Secretary of State read a poem by Christina Rossetti, and then the brothers and sisters of the victims read the names and spoke briefly about – and to – those lost four years ago.
“We will be twins forever.”
“I know you are watching over the kids from heaven.”
“Every day brings us closer to the time we’ll be together again.”
“You are my hero.”
“In memory of my brother, my sister-in-law and their unborn child.”
“Thank you for the joy you gave us for 27 years.”
“Our hearts are broken.”
“You were my baby brother. I took care of you all your life.”
“You did so much in such a short time.”
“I’m wearing this bright pink because he loved bright colors.”
“We are all proud of you.”
“I’d give up tomorrow for just one yesterday with you.”
“Daddy hasn’t been the same since we lost you.”
“We love you and miss you every day.”
“There was so much you wanted to do and you never had a chance to do it.”
Four times bells rang out, four times the crowd was silent:
Hundreds of uniformed police and fire officers wore small black ribbons imprinted with “WTC” on their chests, indicating that they served at the site on that day. Many friends and family members literally wore their hearts on their sleeves, attending the service clad in t-shirts and badges printed with the names and photos of those they lost.
Thousands walked down the massive concrete ramp into the gravel-strewn pit that had served as the foundation of the World Trade Center. Volunteers offered long-stemmed roses to those who were descending. Chaplains stood ready to offer comfort. Red Cross workers circulated with bottles of water, cookies and packets of Kleenex.
Two shallow pools, edged with planks of raw wood, were erected where the two towers had stood. Mourners propped photos and stuffed animals alongside the edges, dropped flowers, notes and religious symbols into the water, and inscribed notes onto the wood. A childish scrawl alongside a drawing of a dog said, “Dad, I am being good and taking care of the animals.” Nearby, a neat, precise hand wrote, “Nancy, you were the best daughter in the world. I’ll see you soon. Love, Mommy.”
Some of those assembled scattered rose petals to the wind, or used the flowers and stones to spell out their messages of grief. Several trained therapy dogs patiently allowed shaking mourners to hug them and weep into their golden coats.
The sky was the same shade of blue. The sun shone at the same angle. But four years later, nothing else was the same.