- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Relatives of people killed in the World Trade Center on September 11 joined hands yesterday in an interfaith memorial ceremony at the site, marking the end of the effort to recover remains from the ruins.
Hundreds of family members hoisted pictures of their loved ones above their heads as the ceremony began with bagpipers playing "Amazing Grace." Then, a woman sang "God Bless America" amid the muffled sobs of relatives.
Among those at the site was William Healey, whose niece Renee Newell was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, the airliner that was flown into the World Trade Center's north tower.
"My niece is here forever," Mr. Healey said, speaking before the ceremony. "It doesn't seem like it's the last day to me."
The ceremony included the lighting of four candles: one for peace and three to honor rescue workers, the families and the almost 3,000 people who died there.
"You will never be forgotten. Your memory will live on forever," said one woman, as a candle was lighted. Afterward, nine white doves were released, and they circled ground zero before soaring out of sight.
Jennifer Nilsen, 33, who lost her husband, Troy Nilsen, said the ceremony added a touch of dignity to the grim work at ground zero. The remains of her husband, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald, a financial services firm, have not been identified.
"It's real important, you know, saying goodbye to my husband, which I never wanted to do," she said. "I'm glad this was done today."
About 1,100 victims have been identified and nearly 20,000 body parts were recovered during the excavation of the 16-acre site, which ended after more than eight months of round-the-clock work.
"Most of these families haven't even found the remains of their loved ones," said Dennis McKeon, director of the St. Clare's Church WTC Outreach program, which organized yesterday's ceremony. "Starting next week, this is going to be a construction site, so this is their last chance to say goodbye."
On Thursday, thousands of people attended a service organized by the city to mark the end of the cleanup at the site and to honor the rescue workers. An empty, flag-draped stretcher symbolizing the victims whose remains have not been recovered was carried out of the pit, followed by the trade center's last steel beam, draped in black cloth and a flag.
Some victims' relatives had criticized Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for not holding the service on a weekend, when they said it would be easier for families to attend. Yesterday's ceremony was planned for family members who weren't able to be there Thursday.

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