The names of 2,983 victims were ceremoniously read out one after the other.
There were six short pauses – marking the exact moments when the north and south towers were hit by the hijacked planes and when they actually fell.
The other two moments were to remember the exact time the planes hit the Pentagon and crashed in Pennsylvania.
The sky over the memorial in downtown Manhattan was strikingly similar to September 11, 2001. It was a distinctive late summer blue sky and not a single cloud to be seen.
President Biden and ex-Presidents Clinton and Obama were among the dozen of dignitaries who paid their respects to the people killed 20 years ago.
Bruce Springsteen sang I’ll See You in Your Dreams for the grieving relatives and friends who queued on Vesey Street before sunrise to attend the ceremony, which began at 8:46 a.m. local time.
When the service began, many held up personal pictures and banners to honor the memory of loved ones.
Michelle Pizzo, 46, came to pay tribute to her husband Jason DeFazio. His picture was on her back.
He died at the age of 29.
Adam Gray / SWNS)
They were only married three months.
Michelle said, “I’ve been there every year since the tragedy. I want to respect and honor my husband. They never found his body. Nothing was found.”
Jason from Staten Island worked as a bond dealer for Cantor Fitzgerald.
Michael Massaroli also worked for the brokerage firm on the 101st floor of the north tower.
His wife Diane attended the ceremony and carried a photo of her late husband.
Not a single person working for Cantor Fitzgerald that day survived the attack.
Across town in the Lower East Village, firefighter Mike Kehoe returned to his fire station with his wife EJ for the first time since moving 17 years ago. Here in Manhattan he was working on the morning of September 11th.
He and his colleagues from Engine 28 left the World Trade Center.
Mike was pictured halfway up the tower bravely trying to save lives.
He managed to evacuate before it collapsed. All six of his colleagues on Engine 28 – Roy Chelsen, Brian Becker, Frank Compagna, Bob Salvador, Jim Ippollito, and Mike – managed to escape with their lives.
Her firefighters on ladder 11 from the same station – Mike Quilty, Matt Rogan, Rich Kelly, Edward Day, John Heffernan, and Mike Cammarata – all died.
A total of 343 firefighters lost their lives that day.
On the outer wall there are memorial plaques for them, on each of which it says: “Who made the greatest sacrifice while doing his service on September 11, 2001 in the Manhattan Box 5-5-8087 World Trade Center.”
Poignantly, two more badges have been added since then.
One is for Roy Chelsen, who tragically died 10 years later of cancer contracted while working in the toxic dust at Ground Zero.
And a former colleague, Christopher Zanetis, who later became a major in the 101st Rescue Squadron and later died in Al Asad, Iraq.
A total of 441 first responders died in the attacks – the greatest loss of rescue workers in American history.
Irish priest Mychal Judge was officially named the number one victim of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
His close friend Brendan Fay, 63, a documentary filmmaker from Athy, Co. Kildare, placed a white rose on his friend’s name at the memorial.
Mychal, the chaplain of the New York Fire Department, was known to have been carried out of the rubble of the Twin Towers.
Brendan, 63, said, “He was a great man. Everyone loved him in New York. “
Tagesspiegel / Ian Vogler)
He remembered the horrors of September 11th and said, “I was jogging in a park near where we live and on the way back I stopped for a cup of coffee. And then I stroll back to my house and see this crowd gathered in front of an electronics store staring at the television. And I stood there and watched with the others.
“And of course that was the moment when our lives here in New York and the whole world were changed forever.”
He and his husband, Tom Moulton, a doctor, were good friends with Mychal.
Brendan said, “It was later that day when I actually found out and confirmed that Mychal, our beloved friend and chaplain in the New York Fire Department, had died.”
Mike Low, whose daughter was the flight attendant of the airliner that hit the north tower, was also at Ground Zero.
He described the “unbearable grief and disbelief” his family had experienced over the past 20 years.
He said, “As we recite the names of those we have lost, my memory goes back to that terrible day when it felt like an evil ghost had come upon our world, but it was also a time when many people acted beyond the ordinary. “.”
Memorial services were held across the city and across the country.
In Pennsylvania, people visited the Wall of Names commemorating the passengers on Flight 93 who successfully prevented their hijacked planes from being used to attack the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
The Queen, Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer were among the British leaders who marked the anniversary by praising the international resolve that has grown out of the tragedy.
In a defiant message in the Olympic Park in east London, the Prime Minister said the threat of terrorism remains, but people refuse to live their lives in “permanent fear”.
“The fact that we come together today – in sorrow, but also in faith and determination – shows the failure of terrorism and the strength of the bonds between us,” said Johnson.
The queen remembered her visit to the site of the attack.
In a message to Biden she said: “On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the terrible attacks of the 11th and the first responders and rescue workers who were called up.
AFP via Getty Images)
“I have fond memories of my visit to the World Trade Center site in 2010.
“It reminds me that in honoring those of many nations, faiths, and backgrounds who have lost their lives, we also recognize the resilience and determination of the communities that have come together to rebuild.”
Labor leader Sir Keir said the aftermath of the attacks “can still be felt today”, adding that the tragedy is “still so raw”.
He said: “But on the occasion of this anniversary, I am convinced that our determination has never been stronger.
“We will continue to fight terror and violence by promoting our values of justice and peace.”
Mr Johnson said recent events in Afghanistan only strengthened people’s belief in freedom and democracy.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 changed our world forever.
“Today we remember the innocent people who lost their lives – including the 67 British, many of whom were Londoners.
“Our values of freedom, tolerance and respect will always, always prevail. Hatred will never win.”
The utterances of political leaders came when the prime minister – Tony Blair – said at the time of the attacks that the international community must stand ready to take action against the Taliban if they were to restore Afghanistan to a terror base.
Blair said the US and its allies had no choice but to invade after the Taliban refused to give up the al-Qaeda leadership responsible for the attacks.
Karen Pierce, British Ambassador to the United States, paid tribute to the 67 British people who died.
She said, “Even though it has been 20 years since these people were taken from us, we still feel their presence in this special place.”