- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

NEW YORK — The voices of children framed the second anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster, pronouncing the names of the dead and singing the nation’s hymns in a ceremony wrought with grief and remembrance.

“It is in them that our spirit lives, carrying both our deepest memories and the bright promise of tomorrow,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said as the ceremony began at 8:30 a.m.

It was a balmy day, very much like September 11, 2001, with cloudless blue skies and a soft breeze swirling a sea of American flags carried by those who came to mourn.

Bells pealed from churches throughout the city. As a children’s choir sang the national anthem, an honor guard of firemen and police carried the flag that once flew over the World Trade Center into the deep center of the site. Two drummers beat a mournful pace.

A 13-year-old boy told the hushed crowd: “My name is Peter Negron. My father, Peter Negron, worked on the 88th floor of the World Trade Center.” He then read a poem, “Stars” by Deborah Chandra, that ends:

“I felt them watching over me, each one,

And let me cry and cry till I was done.”

Two hundred children, in pairs, survivors of the lost, intoned a roll call of the dead as they stood at two lecterns. Their voices often breaking, they read the 2,792 names, at the end pronouncing the names of their loved ones who had died; in many cases, a father. More than once, a child concluded his reading with, “I love you, Daddy. I miss you.”

Mourners decorated a 4-foot fence around the footprint of the North Tower with drawings and messages created by the children of those who perished. Nicollette Oricchio, whose aunt, Michele Bernadette Lanza, died in the attack, was one of the children who read the names. Of her aunt, she said, “She would have thought I was brave.”

As the names were read, hundreds of family members descended a ramp to the deepest part of the mass grave now know as ground zero. They dropped roses of all hues into two temporary reflecting pools at the heart of the site.

They carried pictures of their relatives and friends who had died, holding the images aloft as tears streamed down their faces. Some knelt and wrote notes that they left at the site. Some scooped up dirt with their hands from the deepest part of the pit and poured it into paper bags and bottles for a keepsake. Others just stared into space. It was probably the quietest day at ground zero since the terrorists struck two years ago.

Instead of delivering a speech, Gov. George E. Pataki read a poem, “I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great” by the English poet Sir Stephen Spender.

Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani quoted former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. “We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down.”

The ceremony was suspended four times for a moment of silence: the first at 8:46 a.m., when the first hijacked jetliner hit the north tower; the second at 9:03 a.m., when the second plane slammed into the south tower; and then at 9:59 a.m. and 10:29 a.m. to mark the falls of the twin towers. The New York Stock Exchange and many schools also observed the moments of silence.

Vice President Dick Cheney attended a memorial service in Riverside Church to honor the 84 employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who lost their lives. He did not address the audience. Mr. Cheney was supposed to have appeared at ground zero for the main service, but a conflict over security procedures changed his plans.

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