Families who have ached for a memorial to their loved ones lost on 9/11 were finally able to see the soaring tribute Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the terror tragedy that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.
The memorial features twin reflecting pools that evoke the footprints of the fallen towers, surrounded by waterfalls. Hundreds of trees fill in the spaces of the plaza.
The names of the dead are inscribed in bronze around the waterfall pools. At night, they will be lit from below.
The memorial opens to the public on Monday, and reserved passes are required.
As families began gathering Sunday, they found their loved ones' names, and reached out to touch the inscriptions. Some knelt on the ground, some wept as they saw the letters in bronze.
Later, some families made rubbings of the names with paper and pencil, and stuck roses and flags into the letters of the names.
Many whose loved ones never had remains recovered said the memorial brings a new place of solace for them to visit.
"Now that there's a memorial, we have somewhere to go," said Christine Box, whose brother, Gary, was among the 343 firefighters killed. His remains were never identified.
As Lucy Loguidice read the name of her sister, Catherine, at the 9/11 ceremony, she expressed her gratitude to those who created the monument.
"I would like to thank everybody who did the memorial," she said. "It's very beautiful."
Terrease Aiken, who was 8 years old when she lost her father, said coming back to ground zero was "very eerie, because this is the last place my father lived."
Terrance Aiken, 30, had started his new job on the 97th floor of the north tower on Sept. 4, 2001.
But she said she found the memorial a comforting place.
The sister of Marlyn Garcia, 21, who worked at Marsh & McLennan, said her remains were never found.
"We go through the sadness every single day," her sister said. "Every time we come here, it's very emotional. But at the same time it's healing to be around so many people going through the same thing."