This year, the Ground Zero ceremony was scaled back in New York City, with just family members reading names. There were no speeches from politicians.
As bagpipes played at the year-old Sept. 11 memorial, family clutching balloons, flowers and photos of their loved ones bowed their heads in silence at 8:46 a.m., the moment that the first hijacked jetliner crashed into the trade center's north tower. There was a second moment of silence at 9:03 a.m. to mark the time United Airlines Flight 175 struck the south tower.
There was a pause at 9:37 a.m. to remember the victims of the Pentagon attack, and a fourth moment of silence at 9:59 a.m. to mark the precise time the south tower collapsed.
A 10:03 a.m. pause honored the victims of the crash of the hijacked plane in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the final moment of silence at 10:28 a.m. marked the moment when the north tower fell.
Observances were also held at the Pentagon and Shanksville, the other two sites of the September 11th attacks.
The emotion of the day is always prevalent, particularly in the hearts of the victims' family members.
Upon the dedication of the Ladder Company 10 firefighters memorial back in 2006, President George W. Bush said, "The time for mourning may pass, but the time for remembering never does."
And that's exactly what brings the relatives back to celebrate the lives of the loved ones who were killed.
"I come here on the 10th so that I miss all of the rah and the crowds," Joan Vishoff said. "Because it's difficult to find some peace and some quiet time to celebrate my son."
And while politics has played a role in how the nation remembers that terrible day, even lawmakers agree the day should simply be one of reflection.
"I think it is important to keep politics out," Rep. Peter King said. "How the mayor does and how the governor is doing, I know there's a dispute going on. To me, the important thing is the families have a place to go. And we can put all that aside and just remember how terrible that day was and how heroic it was at the same time."
Spokesmen for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the governors were fine with the memorial organizers' decision.
"I think that everybody wants to remember 9/11," Vishoff said. "But we need to have our privacy too, and it's so very hard for us. It really is."
The annual Tribute in Light installation is illuminating the city from 7:11 p.m. Tuesday to 6:34 a.m. Wednesday.
Tribute in Light is composed of 88 searchlights installed just west of the trade center site.
It debuted six months after the 2001 terror attacks and has since become an annual Sept. 11 commemoration.
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