RealNews

Rituals of Grief, on a Day Eased Only by Time

They gathered at a hole in the ground in Lower Manhattan, a lonely patch of earth in rural Pennsylvania and a spot near the healed breach in the seat of military power, the Pentagon. The crowds were smaller than in past years, the grief perhaps muffled a bit by the gauze that time weaves over raw wounds, as hundreds drew close to the sites of the worst terrorist attack in United States history yesterday to remember and mourn those lost three years earlier, on Sept. 11, 2001. A few minutes before 8:46 a.m., the same moment the first plane hit the north tower, the families of those who died at the World Trade Center began to perform the choreographed rituals that three years of grief have worn into the memory of the day, a careful series of steps as familiar and formal as a waltz. There was the stoic descent seven stories into the earth, perhaps for the last time as construction proceeds rapidly on the once-barren site; the four aching moments of silence to mark the impact of each plane and the collapse of each tower; and the recitation of 2,749 names, the melancholy tolling of church bells and the lonely echo of taps.Full Story

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