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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 03:31 GMT 04:31 UK
Candles in Central Park
Women hold candles in memoriam in Central Park, New York City
The ceremonies were an act of communal remembrance

Across Central Park in New York City, as the orchestra played Gershwin, candles flickered in the darkness.


I still believe this is a beautiful world, and I want my children to believe it

Maria Schein
On Wednesday night tens of thousands of ordinary New Yorkers were remembering lost friends at a concert in the park.

On the first anniversary of 11 September, the city had spent an emotional day honouring its dead.

Many of those in the huge crowd had watched the televised ceremonies at Ground Zero.

But this was their opportunity to come together and be part of a communal act of remembrance.

Narrow escapes

Among the huge crowd were many who had lost friends and colleagues at the World Trade Center.

New Yorker Tuesday Burns holds a candle in Central Park
New Yorker Tuesday Burns said that the ceremonies had meant a lot to New Yorkers

Some had stories of their own narrow escapes.

Mark Schein was a little late arriving for work that day, because it was his son's first day at school.

When the first plane struck he was in the street below, and was showered in paper from the wrecked offices above.

Then he saw people starting to jump.

As he moved away, the second plane hit and he was thrown into a window. But unlike so many others that day, he survived.

Open in new window : In pictures
The world remembers

"It has been an emotional week," he said.

"I have been watching the footage again on television. It is hard finding a proper outlet for your feelings.

"I lost friends. You do not want to forget it, but you do not want to stop what you are doing."

A difficult year

Sitting with him in the park was his wife, Maria, and their two children, Aaron, five, and Sophia, three.


It is encouraging to see people moving on with their lives, and the fact that the city is still thriving is amazing and inspirational

Tuesday Burns
"I have two beautiful children and I am happy to have our husband here with us today," she said.

"I still believe this is a beautiful world, and I want my children to believe it."

Just a few feet away, lighting a candle, was someone else who used to have an office in the World Trade Center.

Christopher Casey worked for Morgan Stanley on the 59th floor of the South Tower.

He was also just arriving for work on 11 September when the attacks began.

"I was standing in the plaza and saw smoke, and windows started to pop, and people started jumping out," he recalled.

"A few minutes later the second plane came in over the Hudson River and smashed into my building.

"It has been a very difficult year... probably the most difficult year for the city and its people.

"But we came through it well and I am just looking forward to moving forward now."

Remembering others

Sitting alongside on the grass, James Bellantoni thought the big turnout by the public for the day of ceremonies had sent out an important message.

Christopher Casey [l] and friend James Bellantoni [r]
Bellantoni, right, said the huge turnout showed America's strength

"It shows the world that New York and America are strong," he said.

"The fact that so many people came out today shows that we are not afraid."

Also enjoying the music, and lighting candles with her friends, was 25-year-old Tuesday Burns.

"It means a lot to New Yorkers to see this outpouring of support," she said.

"It has been a long year, but it has really helped the city to pull together.

"It is important to use this opportunity to remember others and to appreciate everything that every single person in the city has done to get through it all.

"It is encouraging to see people moving on with their lives, and the fact that the city is still thriving is amazing and inspirational."

It had been a solemn day of remembrance, but last night's concert ended the day on an upbeat note, in every sense.

Billy Joel's performance of one of his best-known songs, "New York State of Mind", was just what the crowd needed.

They went home with smiles on their faces.

Click here to watch people in New York give their views about 11 September


New York despatches

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11 Sep 02 | Americas
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