LOWER MANHATTAN (PIX11)—The memorial ceremony at the World Trade Center site this September 11th strongly featured change, and the many changes in the event and in the venue seemed to be welcome.
Every anniversary commemoration has featured the unfurling of a giant American flag from a building adjacent to Ground Zero. This year, though, the building from which the flag was lowered was a One World Trade Center at its full height of 104 stories.
She was among the many present who noted how significantly the Trade Center site has changed physically, even in the year since the decade anniversary.
Karen Moreno also talked about change at the World Trade Center site over time. Moreno, the mother of deceased Cantor Fitzgerald employee Yvette Nicole Moreno, had been a police officer on September 11, 2001, and had been using her paramedic training that day to help people who had survived the attack, and then the towers came down. Moreno had not returned to Ground Zero until this year's memorial service.
"Now it feels more normal," Moreno told PIX11 News. "The silence after the towers came down was deafening." Now, she pointed out, there's traffic noise from reopened streets and busy businesses in Lower Manhattan. At the 9/11 Memorial itself, the sounds were of a string quartet, bagpipes, drums and bugles.
There was also the sound of Moreno's other daughter, Leana Moreno, reading her sister's name in the ceremony. All of the nearly 3,000 names of terror attack victims were read by family members in this year's commemoration.
Not speaking at this year's ceremony were the many elected officials in attendance. Current and former senators, governors and other public figures, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano did not have remarks as part of the ceremony. The only exceptions were Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who made brief statements before the ceremony began.
The officials did talk one on one with victims' families. Lenny Galfano, who lost his son, Port Authority Police Capt. Gary Galfano last year to Ground Zero-related cancer, told PIX11 News that Janet Napolitano spoke with him. He said she told him that she had attended the ceremony to support people like him.
"I said [to her], 'I agree with you a hundred percent, and I like what you're doing.'" He added that he felt the 9/11 commemoration is meant for families.
One other change at the ceremony was in the number of attendees. The crowd was decidedly smaller than in most years and, as one name reader, a relative of fallen World Trade Center worker Donnie Notaro, mentioned, "It's been eleven years already, but unfortunately for some, this day fades as the years go by."