After 3,652 days, it was as if everything had changed and nothing had changed.
Americans observed the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at hundreds of memorials around the nation, including major new ones in New York and Pennsylvania that transformed the sites of terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 into places of healing and remembrance.
Yet the memories that flooded back were as sad and angry as ever.
Again, the specter of terrorism was abroad. Again, relatives held photos of missing loved ones with whom they'd hoped to reconnect. Again, children spoke to parents they never knew, and parents mourned children they had to bury — if they had anything to bury.
Standing at the spot where hijacked airliners destroyed the nation's two then-biggest office towers, John Gill Jr. held up a photo of his son, 34-year-old New York firefighter Paul Gill, and spoke to him: "We never found you. We never recovered you. But we know where you are — with our Lord in heaven."
Nicholas Gorki, 9, spoke of his father, "who I never met because I was in my mom's belly." But he thanked him nonetheless: "I love you, Father. … I love you for loving the idea of having me."
They were two among the scores of parents, siblings, children, domestic partners and other loved ones who read the names of the lost in ceremonies at the National September 11 Memorial in New York and the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pa.
Outside Shanksville, where passengers helped bring down a hijacked airliner apparently bound for Washington, nearly 5,000 people listened as victims' name were read aloud by relatives while bells tolled.
"This is not an easy morning," said Gordon Felt, whose brother Edward Porter Felt died in the crash. "Sept. 12, we began healing. While we can never be healed, we can embrace the healing process."
More than 1,000 relatives of those who died at the Pentagon filed slowly into the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial and sat quietly in rows of metal chairs, facing the...