Sunday, September 11, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans yesterday grieved the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as the brothers and sisters of the dead read their loved ones’ names and offered messages of remembrance to a weeping crowd at the site where the World Trade Center once stood.

The list of the lost began with Gordon M. Aamoth Jr., an investment bank employee. Then, one after another, the names echoed across the site where the Twin Towers collapsed four years ago in a nightmarish cloud of dust and debris.

Relatives in the crowd bowed their heads and sobbed as speakers uttered brief, personal messages to the brothers and sisters they lost.

“Donald, there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about you,” a sobbing Suzanne Gavagan Mascitis said to her brother, Donald Richard Gavagan Jr., a 35-year-old bond trading-firm employee.

As the names were read, weeping mourners filed down a ramp to a reflecting memorial pool on the floor of the site, which remains virtually empty four years after the attack killed 2,749 persons and tore a hole in the New York skyline. Families filled the water with red, orange and yellow roses, some shaking as they inscribed dedications on the wooden edge of the pool.

The ceremony came as Hurricane Katrina left Americans once again struggling with an event that caught the nation unprepared and left citizens dead and grieving.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg opened with words of condolence for those devastated by Katrina and the terrorist bombings in the London transit system.

“To Americans suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, our deepest sympathies go out to you this day,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

In New Orleans, New York firefighters helping with the relief effort gathered around a makeshift memorial for their fallen comrades, accepting the gift of a bell from a nearby church whose steeple was destroyed in the storm.

The New York ceremony was paused for moments of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time when a hijacked jetliner crashed into the North Tower; at 9:03 a.m., the moment a second plane struck the South Tower; at 9:59 a.m., when the South Tower fell; and at 10:29 a.m., when the North Tower collapsed.

Many relatives looked to the clear, bright morning sky as they spoke to the brothers and sisters they lost. Several held up photos of their loved ones.

“Kenny, your legacy of teacher, mentor, leader and coach did not die with you four years ago, but rather found new life and will live on forever,” said Marie Cox, to her brother, Kenneth Phelan, a firefighter and father of four.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice read a poem by Christina Rossetti after the second moment of silence. New York Gov. George E. Pataki, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and acting New Jersey Gov. Richard J. Codey also addressed the crowd.

“We all stand together to help each other and to help those who need our help in the future,” Mr. Giuliani said. “We remember forever all the brothers and sisters that we lost on that day.”

Other memorials planned for yesterday included a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey service for the 84 employees it lost on September 11. Firefighters planned to roll out their trucks and other equipment in front of their firehouses.

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