Relatives of those killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001 stood shoulder to shoulder in Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park this morning to remember the deceased.
Hoisting photographs of loved ones into the air and wearing T-shirts and pins emblazoned with the names and faces of the dead, they stood for hours to listen to the reading of the names of the 2,751 victims who died as a result of the attacks.
A 52-year-old who said he is retired and a volunteer for the Red Cross, Louis Jerez, stood near the back of the crowd wearing a shirt bearing the photograph of his deceased cousin, Angel Luis Juarbe Jr., a firefighter who was killed on September 11, 2001. Mr. Jerez lives in Pasadena, Md. and said he has come every year to the ceremony.
"The feelings are the same. What changes are the crowds," he said. "It gets smaller and smaller."
He, like other relatives in attendance, said he is upset that there is not yet a memorial to the victims of September 11 at the site of the World Trade Center, and he blamed the state's politicians for the lack of progress.
"Politics is politics. No matter how tragic the crime was, still there's a lot of politics," he said.
Frances Bulaga of Wanaque, N.J., said she was at the ceremony for her son, John Bulaga Jr., who had worked on the 103rd floor of Tower One for Cantor Fitzgerald. He was 35 when he died and left behind two children. Ms. Bulaga, who said she didn't want to talk about politics today, said she thinks it's wrong for Senators McCain and Obama to visit ground zero on the anniversary of the attacks.
The presidential candidates did not attend the ceremony this morning but are expected to visit the site this afternoon before attending a forum on public service at Columbia University this evening.
"Tomorrow's another day. They could do it tomorrow," she said. "They don't have to take away from what we are doing today."
Kerene Reeves, 27, who lost her mother, a former employee of an insurance brokerage company in Tower Two, to the attacks, said she thought it was important to have the candidates visit ground zero.
"I'm glad they are aware of the hurt and the fact that this is a delicate and tragic event," she said.
Mayors Bloomberg and Giuliani, Governors Paterson and Pataki, and the Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, spoke briefly during the ceremony. The park where the ceremony was held is adjacent to ground zero.