At 8:46 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, over 5,000 people lined the western waterfront of Downtown Manhattan, starting at Battery Park. For a brief moment, the group held hands in a long moment of silence to remember 9/11 as part of the Hand in Hand event organized by Community Board 1.
Some held hands with strangers, like Karen H. a longtime East Village resident, who stood next to a 5-year-old girl. “I’m here because I still can’t wrap my brain around it,” said Karen, who asked to be named only by her first name.
Others came in groups, like Rosemary Paparo, whose co-worker lost a sister on 9/11. Paparo arrived with roughly 30 colleagues.
While many in the crowd didn’t directly lose a family member in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, almost all of them had a story about that day and what Downtown Manhattan was like in the days and weeks that followed. Paparo, who lived in Greenwich Village at the time, recalled that the exterior walls of St. Vincent’s Hospital were lined with missing person flyers. Diane Lapson, a Tribeca resident, said after the first plane hit, people were rushing to the site to help. “It was almost religious. They weren’t thinking of survival of the fittest,” she noted.
“We have traveled 10 years to get here,” said another participant, before making her way to the Wall of Remembrance set up in Battery Park.
The commemoration events continued through the day of the anniversary, starting at dawn at a 9/11 sunrise ceremony in Battery Park, where musicians played and elected officials recited selected readings. At 8:46 a.m., the service for family members of those who died on 9/11 began at the memorial site with a moment of silence and the reading of the names. President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani all read passages during the roughly three-hour ceremony that was broadcast on all of the major television networks.
A few blocks away, past the rigorous security perimeters set up around ground zero, workers and volunteers at St. Paul’s Chapel handed out white ribbons for people to tie around the gates of the church. A man played “Amazing Grace” on the flute, while 9/11 conspiracy theorists chanted across the street. A few hundred feet away, on Broadway, the International Action Center organized a day-long rally for the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the afternoon, St. Paul’s held a ceremony for first responders. Tom Geraghty, who not only lost his sister-in-law on 9/11 but later joined the construction team that worked on the site, spoke there. He recounted that at the time he felt angry and sought revenge. “But then I thought of St. Paul’s church and the love inside it,” he said. Geraghty ended his speech with a simple message: “Spend more time with love. Tell people how you feel about them. Give more of yourself to others. Talk more. Share more. Love more.”
That evening, The Tribute in Light cast beams of light high into the sky, making the Downtown residents who were out on the streets—both near and far from ground zero—look up in awe.
Top photo by Andrew Schwartz.
Gallery photos by Wyatt Kostygan.
Clockwise from top: The Tribute in Lights an art installation using 88 searchlights, illuminated on Sunday, Sept. 11, near ground zero; A man plays the flute outside of St. Paul’s Chapel on Sunday, Sept. 11; Thousands of participants held hands as part of the “Hand in Hand: Remembering 9/11” event on Saturday, Sept. 10; While the reading of the names took place a few blocks away at the memorial site, others gathered on Chambers St.; Children create a mural on Pier 25, one of the many volunteer projects that were part of “Hand in Hand.”
9/11 Memorial Opens to Much Anticipation
“On September 12, we open our doors to the world,” said Joe Daniels, executive director of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum, in a press conference last week. The site, which hadn’t been trod on by the general public since Sept. 11, 2001, officially opened this Monday to thousands from over 30 countries, who had secured reservations in advance. While the memorial and museum are free, visitors are required to make make a reservation online at the organization’s website.
At the end of last week, roughly 400,000 passes had already been secured and by Tuesday, Sept. 13, the first available time slots were on Oct. 14.
The memorial site is landscaped with 225 swamp white oak trees, and the roughly 3,000 names of those who died on 9/11 and in the 1993 bombing are inscribed on bronze parapets on the perimeter of the twin memorial pools. Visitors can find the location of a loved one’s name on the memorial’s website.
The memorial has also arranged Community Evenings, the first Sunday of every month beginning Oct. 2 and running through Jan. 8, from 4 to 7 p.m. Downtown residents are asked to reserve visitor passes in person at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site at 20 Vesey St. starting Sept. 19.
As Daniels looks forward to the future of the site, he noted that sustaining funding will be a challenge. The memorial and museum will have an annual operating budget of roughly $50 to $60 million, and Daniels said he will look to secure federal funding.
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