NEW YORK – Families of those lost in the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, city officials and government leaders gathered at ground zero Sunday morning for the unveiling of the 9/11 Memorial and to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragic day that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
Despite the decision by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to not include religious leaders as part of the 9/11 ceremony, religious references still made its way into the ceremony in the addresses by President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.
"God is our refuge and strength," said President Obama, quoting Psalm 46 from the Bible, following an observed moment of silence that marked the first hijacked jet crashing into the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. ten years ago.
“…God is in the midst of her. She shall not be moved,” continued Obama as he stood before the white oak trees of the new 9/11 memorial.
A heart-wrenching reading of the names of those killed in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon was carried out by spouses, siblings, children, and other surviving family members.
With tears in their eyes and wavering voices, yet exhibiting a quiet strength, many wives, daughters, sons, sisters and brothers stood in front of thousands – remembering their loved ones.
Former President George W. Bush read the “Bixby letter” of condolence that President Abraham Lincoln wrote in 1864 to a mother who lost five sons in the Civil War:
“I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
Retired NYPD Officer James Smith, accompanied by his daughter Patricia, remembered his wife Moira Smith, an NYPD officer who ran into the towers time and time again trying to save whomever she could. She never came out as the south tower collapsed, taking her life along with hundreds more.
“Mom I’m proud to be your daughter. You will always be my hero and the pride of New York City,” said 12-year-old Patricia Smith.
The reading of names continued, as a memorial service at the Pentagon, which was stuck by American Airlines Flight 77 at 9:37 a.m. began. The attack killed 184 people on the airplane and in the building.