It takes nearly four hours to read all the names one by one. Four hours in the bright sunlight, under a clear blue sky, as they are said in alphabetical order. Nearly 3,000 names — from Gordon Aamoth to Igor Zukelman — recited by voices that are firm with determination, shaking with fury, breaking into sobs.
As the hours pass, the mourners make their way down the long, long ramp into the pit. They carry objects that symbolize those they lost: a photograph, a poem, a teddy bear, a sweatshirt, a mass card, a baseball pennant, a toy car.
When they reach the bottom they gravitate to two shallow pools, temporarily erected with two-by-four planks, in the footprints of the missing towers. There, even those who have no graves to visit can drop flowers into the water, write messages on the raw wooden planks, pray, cry, salute, embrace and remember.