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 at the World Trade Center site in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania memorial Tuesday to mourn the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 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 might have reached an emotional turning point.
“It’s human nature, so people move on,” said Wanda Ortiz, of New York, whose husband, Emilio, 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.”
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. Thousands had attended the ceremony in New York in previous years.
In New York, a crowd of fewer than 200 swelled to about 1,000 late Tuesday morning, as family members laid roses and made paper rubbings of their loved ones’ names etched onto the Sept. 11 memorial. A few hundred attended ceremonies at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., fewer than in years past.
As bagpipes played in New York, families holding balloons, flowers and photos of their loved ones bowed their heads in silence at 8:46 a.m., the moment that the first hijacked jetliner crashed into the trade center’s north tower. Bells tolled to mark the moments that planes crashed into the second tower, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, and the moments that each tower collapsed.