One year after a highly emphasized tenth anniversary, the mood in Lower Manhattan on 9/11 Tuesday morning was less somber than years past. People pushed through their morning commute, most pausing only momentarily as they passed the World Trade Center site on their way to work.
But for the family members who lost a loved one in the terror attacks that changed the world, this day is no easier than the ten anniversaries before it. For them, the pain remains — even with time.
Jamie Hargrave lost his brother T.J. Hargrave, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee, on 9/11. His remains were never recovered. Hargrave was escorting his family into today's commemoration ceremony where his brother's daughter will read his name.
"It is brutally sad every year," Hargrave told Metro. "It's important we remember him. He was quite a man."
When asked whether the pain of 9/11 gets easier with time, Hargrave responded, "Leading up to it and the time after, yes. This day, no."
Myrtle Bazil carried a photograph of her daughter, Shevonne Olicia Mentis, with her into today's ceremony. Mentis worked at Marsh & McLennan on the 93rd floor of the North Tower.
"We traveled on the train, I told her, 'Bye, see you later,'" Bazil recalled as her eyes filled with tears. "Pain, the pain doesn’t go away."
Some family members acknowledged that with the 11th anniversary, the city has taken a significant step forward in moving on from the tragedy, but said the wounds are still fresh for those who lost loved ones.
"Like anything else, the memories die away to certain people and you can understand that," Pat Marino, who lost his firefighter son Kenneth Marino in the WTC, told Metro. "But to the families, I think it’s going to stay just the same as day one. It doesn’t get any easier."
For the first time, this year's commemoration ceremony will not include speeches by elected officials — a change that most family members welcomed.
"It used to be like a political ploy when we came down here and I didn’t like it," Marino said, joined by his wife Mary Ann. "It’s more focused on the victims."
Inside Zuccotti Park, 28-year-old Don Rogers came from his Belmar, New Jersey home to spend time near the site on this day. He said he noticed, though, that the crowd of observers is thinner this year.
"I could see on TV, it’s just kind of another day," Rogers, who was a senior in high school on 9/11, told Metro. "I think last year was more symbolic because it was ten years."
He didn't lose a loved one in the attacks, but said he comes to the city on this day each year to remember, and plans to continue his personal tradition in the future.
"It affected so many people in New York and New Jersey," Rogers said. "It just means a lot, more than anything, I think, in my lifetime will probably mean."