Holding photos and reading names of loved ones lost 16 years ago, 9/11 victims' relatives marked the anniversary of the attacks at ground zero on Monday with a solemn and personal ceremony.
Every Sept. 11 since the date of the deadliest terror attack on American soil, Rob Fazio has come to the place where his father, Ronald Carl Fazio, and thousands of others died.
"I'll come every year for the rest of my life," the son said. "It's where I get my strength."
At least 1,000 family members, survivors, rescuers and officials were gathered as the ceremony at the World Trade Center began with a moment of silence and tolling bells. Then, relatives began reading out the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed when terrorist-piloted planes hit the trade center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, hurling America into a new consciousness of the threat of global terrorism.
Some said they couldn't believe 16 years had passed since a tragedy that "still feels like yesterday," as Corina La Touche put it as she honored her father, Jeffrey La Touche.
To others, it was an occasion to thank first responders and members of the military or to plead for a return to the sense of unity they felt after the attacks.
"Our country came together that day. And it did not matter what color you were, or where you were from," said a tearful Magaly Lemagne, who lost her brother, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Officer David Lemagne. She implored people to "stop for a moment and remember all the people who gave their lives that day.
"Maybe then we can put away our disagreements and become one country again."
Added Michael Buhse, who lost his brother, Patrick: "We will never forget — and we will never forgive."
Sixteen years later, the quiet rhythms of commemoration have become customs: a recitation of all the names of the dead, moments of silence and tolling bells, and two powerful light beams that shine through the night.
Flags on New York state government buildings were flown at half-staff in remembrance of the terror attacks. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is also honoring the first responders who were "beacons of light during our darkest day."
At 8:46 a.m., the moment American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower, NYPD officers throughout all five boroughs who were not responding to calls formed in front of their respective commands to remember the members who were killed in the line of duty that day 16 years ago. It was also the same time as the first ringing of the bells.
There was a moment of silence at 9:03 a.m., the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south tower. Another followed 34 minutes later to mark the time American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. Additional moments of silence were held to mark the fall of the north and south towers.
President Trump, a native New Yorker observing the anniversary for the first time as the nation's leader, observed a moment of silence at the White House with first lady Melania Trump. He also planned to participate in a 9/11 observance at the Pentagon.
The ceremony amid the waterfall pools and lines of trees on the National Sept. 11 Memorial plaza strives to be apolitical: Politicians can attend, but since 2011, they haven't been allowed to read names or deliver remarks.
Meanwhile, rebuilding and reimagining continues at ground zero. The third of four planned office towers is set to open next year; so is a Greek Orthodox church, next to the trade center site, that was crushed by the South Tower's collapse. Work toward a $250 million performing arts center continues after a design was unveiled last fall.
Most recently, plans were announced this spring to transform a grassy clearing on the memorial plaza into a walkway and area dedicated to 9/11 rescue and recovery workers, including those who died of illnesses years after being exposed to smoke, dust and ash at ground zero.