A sea of smiling faces captured at various points in time.
The images today were held in the hands of mourners at the place where the former North and South World Trade Centers were located in New York City, on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks against states US. Other portraits and family photos positioned next to flowers and national flags on honorary fountains in which the names of the victims are engraved, in the shadow of a sparkling Freedom Tower that peeps through a halo of clouds.
The grim scene was a harsh reminder of those who have been robbed of their lives and whose hopes and dreams will never be realized.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when the terrorists hijacked four commercial planes and hit them against the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, on a clear autumn day, almost two decades ago. It was the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.
But while the face of lower Manhattan has changed radically since September 11th, love and the sense of loss remain the same, with the annual ritual of ground zero memory being a clear testimony.
The ceremony pays tribute to those killed in the attacks by reading all the names of the victims and moments of silence, as well as bells that ring the time when the planes crashed and the twin towers of the center fell. The event is closed to the public and attended mainly by victims' family members and first responders, many of whom carry framed or printed photographs of those who have been lost to pay tribute to them.
Among those in the picture: children, families and men and women of various ages, colors and religions, from around 70 countries around the world – all the faces of people who have since lost so many personal milestones. For many surviving family members and loved ones, the extent of each loss is still very raw.
"So many milestones that he lost," said a woman of her dead husband.
"This is a bit difficult."
One after the other, the family members of the victims of September 11th took the podium on Wednesday and read the names of those lost. Between one reading and another, the bagpipers played "America the Beautiful" and an honor guard wore the American flag. Many spectators cried.
The Australian Simon Kennedy, whose mother Yvonne Kennedy was killed aboard Flight 77 of American Airlines when the terrorists hijacked the plane and took him to the Pentagon, traveled from Sydney to New York for the ceremony.
"It won't be fun, but I'm here to make you proud," Kennedy told news.com.au before taking part in reading the name.
Ms. Kennedy, 63, was one of 10 Australian victims killed in the September 11 attacks
Parboti Parbhu choked while talking about his killed sister, Hardai.
"There is no easy way to say goodbye," he said.
Bud Salter, who lost his sister Catherine, also took part in reading the name.
"Eighteen years. We will not forget. We cannot forget, "he said.
By now the legacy of pain has been passed down to a new generation, including children and young adults who barely knew their relatives lost or not at all.
Jacob Campbell was 10 months old when his mother, Jill Maurer-Campbell, died September 11th.
"It's interesting to grow up in a generation that doesn't really remember it. I feel a connection that nobody I go to school can really understand," said Campbell, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, at the ceremony.
Others have highlighted the suffering of firefighters, police and others who have died or become ill after being exposed to smoke, dust and other toxic substances in the zero point.
So far, a compensation fund for people with health problems related to September 11 has provided over $ 5.5 billion. More than 51,000 people applied.
US President Donald Trump deposed a crown in the Pentagon today, telling the relatives of the victims: "This is your anniversary of personal and permanent loss."
"It is the day that has been repeated in your memory a thousand times. The last kiss. The last phone call. The last time I heard those precious words," I love you, "said Trump.
Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the third site where the planes crashed on September 11, 2001, Vice President Mike Pence credited the crew and the passengers who fought against the hijackers with his protection and others in the United States Capitol that day.
"I will always believe that I and many others in our nation's capital have been able to go home that day and embrace our families because of the courage and selflessness of your families," said Pence, who all 39; he was a member of the Indian Congress.
Like families, the nation is still struggling with the consequences of the attacks. The effects are visible from security checkpoints in the United States in Afghanistan, where the post-9/11 invasion has become America's longest war. The purpose was to remove the Taliban in power in Afghanistan for hosting the leader of al-Qaeda and the mind of September 11th Osama bin Laden, who was killed in 2011.
At the beginning of this week, Trump canceled a secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban and Afghan government leader and stated that peace talks are "dead".
The current leader of Al Qaeda used the anniversary to demand further attacks on the United States and other goals.