Nightly News   |  September 11, 2011

Healing continues with day of remembrance

For the first time in ten years, the Sept. 11 sun rose in New York City over a permanent memorial to the victims of 9/11, and in Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., thousands paid tribute. NBC’s Lester Holt reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. just a few hours from now it will be september 12th and we'll be beyond this awful day on the calendar for another year. it's a gray evening here in new york city . of course, this september 11th was different. it's now been a full decade since the morning when hell rained down on earth from the sky and changed all of our lives forever. so today in the places where it happened back then, here in new york and in washington and pennsylvania , tens of thousands of people gathered to mark the darkest day in modern american history . that field in pennsylvania has regrown. the pentagon was fixed a year later. here in new york , however, it still looks like a bit of a crater even though now this space at least contains a proper memorial that the families got to visit just today. and that's where we begin our coverage of this day's events with lester holt . what a day it was here.

>> what a day, brian. 2,983 names are read aloud here at ground zero today. that was the combined total of those who died on 9/11 and in the '93 world trade center bombing . the reading of names interrupted six times by moments of silence to mark the key moments of destruction on 9/11. for the first time since the attack, the september 11th sun rose in new york city over a permanent memorial to the victims of 9/11. where waterfalls now spill into the footprints of the twin towers , mirroring the tears that flowed on this anniversary.

>> jill ann metzle rerks.

>> my dad, michael batch.

>> former first lady laura bush wept as wives, husbands, parents and children, some too young to remember their moms or dads, told us who they lost.

>> and my father, sebastien.

>> i wish my dad had been there to teach me how to drive, ask a girl on a date and see me graduate from high school .

>> reporter: the president and mrs. obama began their visit to all three attack sites greeting the family of victims in new york .

>> god is our refuge and strength.

>> reporter: later, the president read a pibiblical passage. former president bush quoted another wartime president, abraham lincoln , in offering his own consolation.

>> i pray that our heavenly father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost.

>> singer james taylor performed. but the moon is slowly rising

>> reporter: as did paul simon . to the strains of "sound of silence" families filed into the memorial and saw for the first time the names of their loved ones permanently etched in bronze and the vision that was planted in my brain still remains , within the sound of silence

>> reporter: these grounds are the final resting place for many of those who died on 9/11.

>> michael patrick eiken.

>> i never got remains of my michael .

>> john a.

>> i am really sad by the fact that he's among one of the deceased, obviously. but at the same time i'm so grateful that his name will be forever preserved, you know, in bronze.

>> reporter: as they have every year, bells tolled as the moments of impact. 9:37 was the moment american flight 77 struck the pentagon killing 184 people. amazing grace

>> good morning.

>> reporter: vice president biden paid tribute to the pentagon victims.

>> many of them were just kids on that bright september morning. but like their grandparents, on december 7th , 1941 , they courageously bore the burden.

>> reporter: the bells tolled against at 10:03 , the moment flight 93 crashed in the pennsylvania countryside.

>> my lovely mother.

>> my beautiful sister.

>> c.c. cross.

>> they were 40 names to read in shanksville. 40 names now etched into a wall. oh beautiful for spacious skies

>> when we are weary, in need of strength, we remember them.

>> reporter: the president laid a wreath here before ending his day back in washington where he laid another wreath at the pentagon and spent time with family members. back noo new york , the one world trade center tower quickly rises above the ground, a symbol of recovery. time has healed this landscape. but it does not heal all the wounds of 9/11. the 9/11 memorial opens to the public by reservations tomorrow. brian, i talked to a couple of family members who plan to be here tomorrow to greet visitors and share their stories.

>> as we said, what a day here today. lester, thanks.