NEW YORK CITY — Families of 9/11 victims recited the names of those who died 12 years ago Wednesday in one of many events throughout New York commemorating the attacks.
The ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial began at 8:39 a.m. and included a reading of the names of those who died in both the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks. The ceremony was broadcast online.
Readers paused for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. to mark the impact of the first airplane into the north tower.
Ralph Maerz, 68, said he attends the memorial every year to honor his son, Noel Maerz, a 29-year-old bond trader who died in the south tower when it collapsed.
"To me, this is where he's buried," said the elder Maerz, of Florida. "We never found him, so this is where I come. This is what I have."
"I couldn't even say Noel's name without crying for the first seven years," Maerz added. "The pain never goes away. I think about him every day, but I guess you're forced to learn how to cope."
Noelles Maerz, 11, who was born in October 2001 and was named after the father she never met, prepared to read some of the victims' names during her first visit to the memorial.
"She's been scared to come here," her grandfather said. "But this year she wanted to do it. She was ready."
The ceremony was attended by public officials including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor during the attacks.
"The first sight I saw was people being hit by debris being killed. It never leaves you. It will stay with you forever," Giuliani said.
"The pain, even for me, as acute as it was, a year later or two years later, it fits into more perspective," he added. "You see how resilient the people are, and that's a great defense against terrorism — not letting them beat us. We've got a city now that's doing a lot better than it was before."
At 8:15 a.m., 100 dancers dressed in white silently circled Lincoln Center's Revson Fountain, and concluded at 8:46 a.m.
At Trinity Church, the West Point Band will perform a series of patriotic songs starting at 1 p.m.
Another service will be held at the Postcards Memorial on Staten Island at 6:30 p.m. and include Bloomberg and Borough President James Molinaro.
The twin spotlights known as the Tribute in Light will be turned on near the World Trade Center site and shine through the night.
In Washington D.C., President Barack Obama was set to attend a memorial for those who died in the attack on the Pentagon. The National Park Service planned to host a memorial service in Shanksville, Pa., for passengers of Flight 93, which crashed in a field there.