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Mourners pay respects at Ground Zero

Family members who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks observe the first moment of silence in a ceremony Thursday at the World Trade Center site.
Family members who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks observe the first moment of silence in a ceremony Thursday at the World Trade Center site.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Thousands of mourners -- many carrying pictures of loved ones killed two years ago during the terror attacks unleashed on the nation -- gathered Thursday in New York to honor those killed that day.

At Ground Zero, streams of people lined up at the site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. One woman clutched a picture of her son that bore the words, "We will never forget you. My son I love you."

Bagpipes played "Amazing Grace" shortly before a moment of silence was observed at 8:46 a.m. EDT, the time when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the north tower of the World Trade Center -- the first of four hijacked planes used as missiles that day.

Besides the two planes that hit the trade center towers, planes crashed into the Pentagon and in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

About 200 children and young adults whose relatives were killed in the attacks then read the names of the 2,792 victims of the World Trade Center attacks. "I love you daddy. I miss you a lot," said Christina Maria Aceto after reading the name of her father, Richard Anthony Aceto.

During the ceremony, family members walked down a ramp to the lowest level of the site to pray and reflect. Two square pools of water that resembled the footprint of the two buildings quickly filled with flowers. The route was lined by dozens of posters made by children of the victims. One said, "I remember riding on my daddy's shoulders."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Thursday "a sad day, but we're going to get through this."

"The future for New York City is quite bright," Bloomberg told CNN. "We are in a fight together. It's not just New York and the rest of the country. It's really New York and the rest of the world."

He added: "The president is right on this one: We have to strike back."

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who was hailed as a hero for his leadership during the attacks and days that followed, used the second anniversary to call for a better memorial for those lost that day.

He called current designs wrong "because the concept emphasizes office buildings, not the significance of the place."

"When you see that design, the first thing that should capture you is the importance of what happened there -- the memorial aspect of it," he told CNN.

The design, he said, should provide a "tremendous amount of respect ... for the final resting place of a couple thousand people who will never recover and are buried there at the bedrock."

Giuliani said the nation must never forget what happened on September 11, 2001, which Congress declared Patriot Day after the attacks.

"I see it as the worst evil perpetrated on our country and basically which was challenged by some of the greatest good that we are capable of. It's something we have to keep reminding ourselves of," he said.

New York Gov. George Pataki, looking at the thousands gathered at Ground Zero, said that the "sense of loss is like it happened yesterday."

"I don't think that sense of sorrow will diminish, but at the same time, you can't help but feel pride," Pataki said. "You look down and see the firefighters, you hear the bagpipes. You see the people, and you have a tremendous sense of pride [in] the heroism and courage that New Yorkers showed on September 11."

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