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A woman wipes tears as President Barack Obama speaks at the Pentagon Memorial.
Carolyn Kaster/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 9/12/2012
NEW YORK--There were still the tearful messages to loved ones, clutches of photos and flowers, and moments of silence. But 11 years after Sept. 11, Americans appeared to enter a new, scaled-back chapter of collective mourning for the worst terror attack in U.S history.
Crowds gathered, as always, at the World Trade Center site in New York, at the Pentagon and at a Pennsylvania memorial Tuesday to mourn the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 terror attacks, reciting their names and remembering with music, tolling bells and prayer. But they came in fewer numbers, ceremonies were less elaborate and some cities canceled their remembrances altogether. A year after the milestone 10th anniversary, some said the memorials may have reached an emotional turning point.
"It's human nature, so people move on," said Wanda Ortiz of New York City, whose husband, Emilio Ortiz, was killed in the trade center's north tower, leaving behind her and their 5-month-old twin daughters. "My concern now is how I keep the memory of my husband alive."
It was also a year when politicians largely took a back seat to grieving families; no elected officials spoke at all at New York's 31/2-hour ceremony. President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney pulled negative campaign ads and avoided rallies, with the president laying a wreath at the Pentagon ceremony and visiting wounded soldiers at a Maryland hospital. And beyond the victims of the 2001 attacks, attention was paid to the wars that followed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Middletown, N.J., a bedroom community that lost 37 residents in the attacks, town officials laid a wreath at the entrance to the park in a small, silent ceremony. Last year, 3,700 people attended a remembrance with speeches, music and names read. "This year," said Deputy Mayor Stephen Massell, "I think less is more."
Some worried that moving on would mean Sept. 11 will fade from memory.
"It's been 11 years already," said Michael Reneo, whose sister-in-law, Daniela Notaro, was killed at the trade center. "And unfortunately for some, the reality of this day seems to be fading as the years go by. I hope we never lose focus on what really happened here."