At Ground Zero, pain remains for 9-11 families

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With the steel skeleton of the new One World Trade Center rising in the background, 9-11 ceremonies ended shortly after noon Friday with the playing of “Taps” by trumpeters from the New York Police Department, Fire Department of New York and Port Authority police.

The ceremonies marked the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, with relatives and friends reading the names of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed.

Jeff Perlman, 54, of Holtsville, N.Y., said he attended the ceremonies this year for the first time ? a way of saying goodbye before moving to Allentown, Pa., to be closer to his children.

Perlman, who escaped from the 52nd floor of the South Tower before it collapsed, said it has become easier to come to grips with his memories.

“But every year, I call my co-workers and we meet and we wish each other happy birthday, because we were given a new life,” said Perlman, standing at Liberty and West streets, near where the South Tower had stood.

“I just wanted to be here today. I’m trying to purge the sadness so I can say goodbye and move on.”

Those attending the ceremony at Zuccotti Park, a block from the World Trade Center site, embraced under umbrellas, holding framed pictures of those lost. The park is being used while construction at the World Trade Center site continues.

One woman attending ceremonies for the first time left to seek solace at nearby St. Paul’s Chapel, along with others taking cover from the steady, windblown rain. First responders also found shelter and respite at the chapel throughout the rescue effort in the weeks and months after the attacks.

Carmen Tulier, 52, who moved from New York to the Poconos after losing her niece, Monique DeJesus, made her first trip to Ground Zero Friday.

“So many people died there, it just didn’t feel right to be there,” she said at the chapel. “Perhaps I’ll find it ? peace. That’s what I’m looking for, but I haven’t found it yet.”

Resting on a bench outside the Millennium Hotel, across the street from the trade center site, Horacio Aponte of Brooklyn said he takes off from work every Sept. 11 to honor the memory of family friend Dennis Mojica of Rescue One.

He had a poster featuring Mojica, the Statue of Liberty and the American flag. He said his recent knee surgery wasn’t going to stop him from coming as he has every year.

“It’s a day that everyone should take at least one moment to reflect,” Aponte said. “We are still feeling, and will for generations to come, the impact of that horrible day.”

Among the first speakers at the ceremony was Jay Winuk, brother of Glenn Winuk of Jericho, N.Y., an attorney and volunteer firefighter who was killed.

“What he did here inspired many of us,” said Jay Winuk, of Mahopac in Putnam County, N.Y., co-founder and vice president of MyGoodDeed, a nonprofit formed after Glenn Winuk’s death.

Winuk spoke after the first moment of silence, at 8:46 a.m. EDT, marking the time when the North Tower was struck. A second moment of silence at 9:03 a.m. marked the moment when the South Tower was hit. Bells were also rung then, and later to mark the times when the towers collapsed.

Watching from outside the park was Don Truitt, 44, of Chelsea, an insurance broker at Frank Crystal on Broad Street. Truitt said he was an employee of Aon Corp. on the 105th floor of the South Tower on 9-11, but had not arrived for work when the tower was struck.

“It’s kind of a blessing,” he said.

Friday, Truitt went to work early, then stepped out to watch the ceremonies, an annual ritual, he said.

“Year by year, it’s getting easier, but it’s still hard,” Truitt said. “I have many friends who perished in the tower.”

(c) 2009, Newsday. Source: McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.