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A sense of family reigns at 9/11 anniversary scene in N.Y.

September 11, 2011 |  6:14 am

911_Memorial
There was a sense of family at the World Trade Center site as people prepared to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Megan O'Gara, 24, of Long Island, came to the ceremony with 30 family members to honor her grandfather, Philip T. Hayes, a retired firefighter who was working on Sept. 11 as part of fire security at the World Trade Center’s towers. His body was found seven months after the attack by members of his old unit, the New York Fire Department's Ladder 217. He was 67. Philip's grandson, Philip Jr. is also here. He was born Oct. 1, 2001.

PHOTOS: A nation mourns the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

O’Gara said she has come to every anniversary, but this one is different because there are so many more people and because of the media buildup. There are at least three times as many family members as were in attendance at last year’s gathering.

“You always meet someone new,” she said. “Learn their story.”

Joseph G. Visciano's family and friends are at the site wearing yellow T-shirts emblazoned with a photo of Visciano in cap and gown and the words, “Forever Young.” There were at least eight such shirts visible as relatives streamed in. Many greeted each other as if at a reunion.

“Happy Birthday, Hank,” some older gentleman yelled across a barricade to another guy. Another woman with a little girl held up a framed series of photos of a man with a baby. The shapes of the photos spell out “I love you daddy.”

The main platform at the ground zero ceremony forms a T in front of the half-finished Freedom Tower, which is draped with a giant American flag. The families are crowded in front of the platform, no seats, just hours of standing to hear the ceremonial bells to honor the victims, and the reading of their names.

Nancy Novoro, 52, of Mastic Beach on Long Island, is the sister-in-law of Catherine LoGuidice, a broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, who died on the 105th floor.

“This time of the year is always hard,” she said. “I'm glad to see we're rebuilding. We'll always rebuild.”

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-- Geraldine Baum

Photo: Elba Cedeno, of Waretown, N.J., holds a sign memorializing her partner, Catherine Theresa Smith, as friends and relatives of the victims of 9/11 gather in downtown Manhattan. Credit: Jason DeCrow / Associated Press

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