NEW YORK — Two by two they stepped forward at ground zero Thursday, the sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandsons and granddaughters of the Sept. 11 victims, mournfully reciting the 2,792 names of the World Trade Center dead.
"My mother and my hero," 13-year-old Brian Terzian said after reading the name of his mother, Stephanie McKenna. "We love you."
For a second straight year, the nation paused on a bright September morning to recall the day when hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing more than 3,000 people in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.
Across the world, people and governments marked the anniversary with prayers, promises to continue fighting terrorism, and reflections on the changes that have been wrought internationally.
In New York, 200 children led the mourning, showing extraordinary poise as they read the enormous list of victims for 2 1/2 hours. Church bells tolled at the moment hijacked Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pa. A moment of silence was observed at the Pentagon for the 184 victims there. And President Bush stood in silence on the White House lawn.
"We remember the heroic deeds," Bush said. "We remember the compassion, the decency of our fellow citizens on that terrible day. We pray for the husbands and wives, the moms and dads, and the sons and daughters and loved ones."
The ceremonies came as the federal government warned of possible al-Qaida attacks against Americans overseas in connection with the anniversary. An Osama bin Laden videotape emerged a day earlier, but U.S. officials sought to downplay its relevance.
The relatives at ground zero appeared in various sad permutations: Police Sgt. Michael Curtin was represented by his three daughters, Jennifer, 17, Erica, 15, and Heather, 13. Kristen Canillas, 12, stood alongside 8-year-old Christopher Cardinali; both had lost a grandparent.
"I love you and I miss you," Kristen said after reciting the name of her grandfather, Anthony Luparello.
The children — the youngest was 7 — offered poignant messages to their lost loved ones, their emotions laid bare before a crowd that held aloft pictures of the victims, dabbed tears from their eyes, and laid flowers in temporary reflecting pools representing the towers.
The two years since the attack seemed to disappear as speakers surrendered to their emotions.
"My daddy, Gerard Rod Coppola," said Angela Coppola, 20, her voice cracking. "Your light still shines."
Brannon Burke, 13, and her 10-year-old sister Kyleen wore matching blue Engine Co. 21 sweatshirts with buttons bearing the face of fire Capt. William Burke Jr. — their beloved Uncle Billy, a second-generation firefighter.
"It's heartbreaking and it's heartwarming when you hear them say, 'My father, my mother, my aunt,"' said Betsy Parks of Bayonne, N.J., whose brother Robert was killed. "What's amazing is the strength and resilience."
Some family members used their hands to scoop up dirt from the site as a keepsake, slipping it into bags and empty water bottles. For many, it may provide the only link to their lost relatives; authorities estimate the remains of as many as 1,000 victims may never be identified.
The crowd of thousands observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane slammed into the north tower.
At sunset, two light beams pointing skyward were switched on, evoking the image of the twin towers. They will go dark Friday at daybreak.
The remembrance extended far beyond lower Manhattan. Firefighters in Chicago joined in the moment of silence, while bells tolled in Milwaukee.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld presided over a ceremony at the Pentagon and attended a wreath-laying at nearby Arlington National Cemetery. Solicitor General Ted Olson, whose wife, Barbara, died in the attack, told Justice Department employees that an unrelenting fight against terrorism is the best way to honor the memory of those who died.
"Their suffering and deaths must fuel our dedication to stamp out this cancer," Olson said.
In rural Pennsylvania, church bells began tolling solemnly shortly after 10 a.m. to mark the moment Flight 93 crashed. The plane was believed to be headed to the nation's capital; it went down as the passengers fought back against the hijackers.
"I feel incredibly proud for what my nephew did and those brave souls and what a difference they made," said Candyce Hoglan, whose nephew Mark Bingham was among the passengers. "They prevented those monsters from continuing on with their plan."
For a second straight year, family and friends of the 658 Cantor Fitzgerald employees killed in the trade center attack gathered in Central Park for a memorial service. The group met beneath a white tent festooned with an American flag.
Some families of the 700 New Jersey victims in the trade center attended ceremonies in their home state, including the unveiling of black marble monuments for the 37 residents of Middletown, N.J., killed by the terrorists.
"It's not easy today," said Rose Marie D'Amato, whose sister was working on the 94th floor of the north tower. "I felt like I wanted to be here, and I wanted to be in New York. We never recovered any body remains."
In Manhattan, the footprint of the trade center's north tower was outlined by a 4-foot fence draped with banners bearing drawings and messages painted by children of the victims.
"I remember riding on daddy's shoulders," read the message from 4-year-old Maggie Murphy, written between a picture of flowers and the two towers.
Family members of victims walked down a ramp into the pit of the site. Some knelt to touch the trade center's bedrock; others hugged or wept.
Joan Molinaro, the mother of late firefighter Carl Molinaro, spoke for all the parents who had lost their children.
"I feel your hand leave mine," Molinaro said, reading from a poem she had written. "I feel that warm gentle kiss and wake to the tears on my cheek.
"My baby boy is gone."
In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Cabinet stood to observe a minute's silence in memory of the more than 3,000 victims.
Later, Princess Anne planned to open a garden of remembrance near the U.S. Embassy dedicated to the 67 British people who died in New York's World Trade Center. A twisted metal girder recovered from the Twin Towers is buried beneath the garden.
"It's particularly important to us because many families, my own included, had no remains returned to us," said Jim Cudmore, who lost his 39-year-old son, Neil, in the attacks.
At Yokosuka Naval Base just south of Tokyo, U.S. military personnel held a wreath-laying service. In Baghdad, the U.S. administrator for Iraq and the commander of American forces joined about 100 civilians and soldiers for a moment of silence at Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace in Baghdad.
L. Paul Bremer and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez bowed their heads as a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace."
"Let us attune our hearts to the voices crying out from Sept. 11, 2001, compelling us to eradicate terrorism in our world and restore justice and dignity to creation," U.S. Army chaplain Col. Frank Wismer said.
At the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, U.S. Charge d' Affaires Joseph Mussomeli laid a wreath by the mission's flagpole, where the American flag was at half-staff.
In Australia, hundreds of expatriate Americans and volunteers planted some 3,000 trees in a Sydney park in remembrance of the dead, who included at least 10 Australians.
"It's painful, but it's pain you have to lock away and get on with your life," said Antony Milne, a manager of the World Trade Center's Windows on the World restaurant who moved to Australia after the attacks.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the battle against terrorists would not end anytime soon.
"This war against terrorism is likely to go on for years and nobody can regard themselves as beyond the reach of terrorism," Howard told Sky News Television. "We need to find ways of further cooperation, particularly at a police and intelligence level."
Howard spoke a day after an Indonesian court sentenced the convicted mastermind of October's Bali bombings to death by firing squad.
The blasts killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, and was the worst terrorist strike since the Sept. 11 attacks. Authorities blamed the Bali bombings on the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group.
Top Russian officials paid homage to the Sept. 11 victims, saying Russia's solidarity with America was born from shared experience.
"The day on which the black cloud of dust from the collapsed skyscrapers overcast the blue sky over New York will go down in world history," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in a statement.
Moscow has portrayed its battle against rebels in Chechnya as part of the international struggle against terrorism. Russian authorities have blamed Chechens for suicide bombings and other attacks that killed more than 150 people in and around Chechnya and Moscow from May to August.
In Brussels, Belgium, the 15 European Union governments issued a joint statement reaffirming their "close solidarity" with the United States and other countries hit by terrorism and their "great determination" to combat terrorism through the "broadest possible international cooperation."
They noted "significant results" achieved so far, including the arrest and trials of suspects, the disruption of terrorist cells and the freezing of assets and sources of funding.
In China's Muslim northwest, the regional Communist Party secretary seized the occasion to warn that separatists in the country's Xinjiang region were getting training from international terrorists, including at "several training camps in Pakistan."
In Muslim majority Pakistan, about 100 students and teachers at a small Christian school in the central city of Multan lit candles and observed a minute's silence to mark the anniversary.
"A handful of people are terrorizing the world using the name of religion," said the Rev. James Channan, director of the Pastoral Institute, a Christian seminary.
Islamic militants in Pakistan have been blamed for attacks against Christian and Western targets throughout the country in the past two years.
Neighboring India, which has accused Pakistan of fomenting terrorism, declared Thursday to be Anti-Terrorism Day.
In Afghanistan, people on Kabul's streets reveled in the changes since the United States ousted the Taliban regime.
"It's much better now that the war is over," said Leila Ahmadi, 25, who returned to Kabul with her family five months ago.
Across Japan, people paid their respects at memorials to the victims, including 24 Japanese.
"The threat of international terrorism still remains serious," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said. "Japan will further strengthen cooperation with other countries and continue to tackle the problem."
In South Korea, police beefed up security at airports, military bases and embassies.
In Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, people entering the world's tallest buildings, the Petronas Twin Towers, had their bags checked, but no extra security was in place.