NEW YORK — There were still the tearful messages to loved ones, clutches of photos and flowers, and moments of silence. But 11 years after Sept. 11, Americans appeared to enter a new, scaled-back chapter of collective mourning for the worst terror attack in U.S history.
Crowds gathered, as always, at the World Trade Center site in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania memorial Tuesday to mourn the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 terror attacks, reciting their names and remembering with music, tolling bells and prayer. But they came in fewer numbers, ceremonies were less elaborate and some cities canceled their remembrances altogether. A year after the milestone 10th anniversary, some said the memorials may have reached an emotional turning point.
"It's human nature, so people move on," said Wanda Ortiz, of New York City, whose husband, Emilio Ortiz, was killed in the trade center's north tower, leaving behind her and their 5-month-old twin daughters. "My concern now is ... how I keep the memory of my husband alive."
It was also a year when politicians largely took a back seat to grieving families; no elected officials spoke at all at New York's 3 1/2 -hour ceremony. President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney pulled negative campaign ads and avoided rallies, with the president laying a wreath at the Pentagon ceremony and visiting wounded soldiers at a Maryland hospital. And beyond the victims of the 2001 attacks, attention was paid to the wars that followed in Iraq and Afghanistan.