Twelve years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, New Yorkers gathered Wednesday in the shadow of One World Trade Center, which this year became the Big Apple's tallest building, to honor the nearly 3,000 people killed.

The ceremony, held in the memorial plaza that overlooks two reflecting pools built where the original WTC towers stood, unfolded over the course of more than four hours with family members reading the names of their lost loved ones.

Under construction since 2004, One World Trade Center goes some way toward filling the vacuum left by the destruction of the twin towers.

But, as the words of their loved ones made clear, the absence of the people killed when airliners hijacked by al Qaeda terrorists slammed into the towers, the Pentagon and a field in central Pennsylvania is still keenly felt.

Wednesday's ceremony began around 8:40 a.m. with the singing of the national anthem, followed at 8:46 by a minute of silence to mark the impact of the first airliner to hit the WTC towers.

The reading of the names was interrupted again at 9:03, 9:37 and 10:03 - the times of the succeeding impacts in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Present for the event were the governors of New York, Andrew Cuomo, and New Jersey, Chris Christie, as well as current and former Big Apple mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani. EFE