Again, the families gather at Ground Zero, where nearly 3,000 people died on this bright September morning. There will be a flood of mourning again. Again, mourning bells will sound and names will be recited.
Eighteen years have passed since terrorists ordered planes to target the World Trade Center and knock them down.
The memorial service to zero – Meanwhile, an annual commemoration ritual begins, following a familiar, gritty script – with bagpipe players and drummers marching in rhythm. An honor guard will bear the flag.
Then the readers will recite the names of the dead one after another, sisters, cousins, mothers, husbands, wives. It's a ritual that will take about three and a half hours.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was announced as mayor of New York in his attack for his leadership, recalled on Wednesday on Twitter the tragedy and bravery of that day's morning.
The 18th Anniversary, not an important milestone like the fifth or tenth, takes place in an area that recovered when it was rebuilt and some say as the country moved on. But for the families whose loved ones have been killed, the grief remains so pervasive and deep as never before.
The anniversary took place on another bright late summer day in New York, but this time clouds hung on the horizon clear blue sky of September 11, 2001.
For many New Yorkers, the anniversary was just another day – that was of course Day people thought of the day of the attacks. In the morning the children went to school. Adults went to work. It was the first day in New York. Some stopped to negotiate their way.
This morning, people in the trading center took coffee and walked across the square as they always did. No one who walked through the revolving doors or stepped into the elevators knew it was the last time he did that.
11 "was about to become one of those data that would evoke personal memories as powerful as those murdered on November 22, 1963, the Friday on which President John F. Kennedy was murdered, or Maybe the January 28, 1986, Tuesday, was what the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded just over a minute after launch.
There are now 400 trees in which the rubble lay in 2001. Loudspeakers were carefully hung from many trees for the ceremonies. The idea is that the names that are read are heard from all over the 8-acre memorial.
Since the first commemoration on September 11, long before a monument and museum were honored at the memorial, the reading was a meaningful ritual that recognized every person involved in the tragedy of the day. But this time is different: The 9/11 Memorial Glade, inaugurated in May.
It honors another segment of the 9/11 community, those who were exposed to toxins after the attacks – people who worked in the Twin Towers and fled. Policemen and firefighters who had been burning rubble for more than three months; and residents of Lower Manhattan who breathed the same air. Some have developed chronic diseases. Some have died.
The Glade, a series of large stone monoliths inlaid with steel from the original trading center, was inaugurated on the occasion of another grim anniversary, the 17th anniversary of the official end of the salvage mission at Ground Zero. With 13 to 18 tonnes apiece, the monoliths were so heavy that they had to be installed with two cranes hoisting them over the tall white oaks on the field.
The platform for the readers will be in the shadow of a single World Trade Center that is no longer new – people have noticed in previous ceremonies that it is ascending to heaven, but the building fences that once surrounded the area are long gone disappeared. The new One World Trade Center opened the observatory on the top floors five years ago.
On Wednesday morning there will be further observations. In Trinity Church at the top of Wall Street, the rector, Rev. Dr. William Lupfer ringing the bell of hope that Michael Oliver, who was Lord Mayor of London in 2002, a year after the attacks.
At Ground Zero, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is to be sung by Kassidy Rieder, a Senior Long Island School for the Arts, who is in her freshman year at Juilliard School in her third year of study.
She is too young to remember September 11th. Her mother, Nancy Collins, is a policewoman who worked at zero during the search and salvage operation – until she discovered that she was expecting Kassidy.