DOWNTOWN — Hundreds of 9/11 first responders and their families streamed into the World Trade Center Wednesday evening to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the end of Ground Zero recovery after the attacks.
The responders and family members were met by a line of dignitaries including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former governor George Pataki and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
"There's still a lot of people suffering today."
For some responders it was their first chance to see the memorial.
"Today is my first day back," said responder Jesennia Rodriguez, 38, who worked as an environmental technician at Ground Zero.
"To see the progress that's been made, it's amazing. When I first came here it looked like a scene out of a Godzilla movie."
Rodriguez, who lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn, said she battled thyroid cancer after helping with the recovery and has been in remission for six years.
After the attacks, workers spent months at Ground Zero carting out 1.8 million tons of debris. On May 30, 2002 they removed the last beam from the World Trade Center.
Construction on One World Trade Center began in 2006 and, on April 30, it officially became the tallest building in the city and will be the tallest in America when it is expected to be completed in 2014.
The 9/11 Memorial opened to the public on Sept. 12, 2011.
Despite the transformation, the space still creates intense emotions for those who were there on and just after the attacks.
"It's kind of overwhelming," said responder Anthony Fischetti, 46. "Today is a day to pay respect to everyone who passed away."