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Relatives recite poems, give tribute, try to heal

One year later, navigating a 'maze of grief'

Marianne Keane, 17, said of her stepfather, "In my eyes he died a hero. And how much more could you ask for?"  

By Dave Siff

(CNN) -- It was said that after September 11, life would never be the same. And that is perhaps most true for a particular group of people: those who lost family members in the terrorist attacks.

Every one of the more than 3,000 people who died was someone's husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister.

Many family members of the victims joined public memorials Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the attacks.

At Ground Zero in New York, shortly after a bell pealed at 9:03 a.m. to mark the moment when the south tower was hit, 17-year-old Marianne Keane shared with the crowd of mourners a remembrance of her stepfather Franco Lalama, an engineer for New York's Port Authority who was killed in the attacks.

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"I would give anything to go back to the morning of September 11 and tell him how much I appreciated everything he's done for me," she said. "But I think he knows that now. In my eyes he died a hero. And how much more could you ask for?"

Brittany Clark's father died in the collapse of the south tower. At the World Trade Center memorial Wednesday, she read a poem that she said "makes me feel like my daddy is speaking to me."

"I gave you this one thought to keep. I am with you still, I do not sleep. I am 1,000 winds that blow. I am the diamond glint on the snow. I am sunlight on the riping grain. I am the gentle autumn rain.

"When you awaken in morning's hush, I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds and circled flights. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not think of me as gone, I am with you still in each new dawn."

In Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where mourners gathered to remember the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, Deena Burnett remembered her husband, Tom -- one of the passengers thought to have fought with the hijackers before the plane crashed in a field.

She said the one-year mark is significant.

"Just to get through today -- September 12 has to be a day in which I feel better, knowing that I have completed a year of grief," she said. "It's been very difficult. But at least tomorrow morning when I get up, I'll know I did survive it.

"Knowing that I did pass our 10th wedding anniversary and Tom's birthday -- and feeling my way through the maze of grief that you go through during the first year -- I think that it will make those occasions next year a little more open to happiness and joy, knowing that we've experienced them at least once without Tom," she said.

Marianne Keane sounded a note of hope for all of those who lost a loved one on September 11.

"Things, people, they go away sooner or later. You can't hold them any more than you can hold the moonlight. But if they have touched you, if they are inside of you, then they are still yours."




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