The sun was just beginning to come out on an overcast, humid morning in Lower Manhattan on Monday as the ceremony to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil began.
Attendees of the Sept. 11 commemoration at ground zero sat on folding chairs and leaned against trees. Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with photos of their lost loved ones, while others carried posters or framed pictures. Many brought flowers and flags.
People were visibly emotional as they gathered at the place their friends and family members had died. While mournful flute music filled the air, relatives of those who died read their names aloud.
The families were joined by a number of notable politicians, including Vice President Kamala Harris; Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York; Eric Adams, New York City’s mayor; and Bill de Blasio and Michael Bloomberg, Mr. Adams’s two most immediate predecessors. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, also made a brief appearance.
Mr. Adams, who was a police lieutenant at the time of the attacks, told CBS News in an interview that he had gone to ground zero that day, and was struck by the “eerie stillness.”
“The greatest thing about New York City in America was not what happened on 9/11, but what happened on 9/12,” he said. “We got up, teachers taught, builders built and we continued to show that we were not going to bend or break.”
Betty Espinoza attended the ceremony with her sister and two friends. They sat by the South Pool and listened to the names being read from a loudspeaker hung on a nearby tree. Ms. Espinoza’s husband, Otto Espinoza, died from cancer in 2015 after being assigned to search and rescue teams at ground zero.
The first few years attending the ceremony were very sad, Ms. Espinoza said, but in recent years she has tried to become more accepting of what happened.
“I always remember him, I always think about him,” Ms. Espinoza said. “But this is the life I have to live now.”
This year’s anniversary came just three days after Mr. Adams and the city’s chief medical examiner announced the identification of two additional victims of the attacks, the 1,648th and 1,649th people to be identified. The two new identifications join a list of 60 others who were identified in recent years from remains recovered from ground zero.
“More than 20 years after the disaster, these two new identifications continue to fulfill a solemn pledge,” said Dr. Jason Graham, the medical examiner. “Faced with the largest and most complex forensic investigation in the history of our country, we stand undaunted in our mission to use the latest advances in science to serve this promise.”
The names of the victims — one man and one woman — were withheld because of their families’ wishes. More than 1,100 people — around 40 percent of those who died — remain unidentified, according to the mayor’s office.
Lola Fadulu contributed reporting.