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Originally published Friday, September 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM

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New York City: Keeping in touch with a terrible time

Family and friends come to honor their dead at the World Trade Center memorial plaza.

To go, see

World Trade Center site plan: www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress

National September 11 Memorial & Museum: www.911memorial.org

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11 years later and I still can't talk about it without losing words and breath. MORE

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AT THE memorial wall in Manhattan, they gently stroke the engraved names of loved ones who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

They are families and friends who have come to honor their dead at the World Trade Center memorial plaza. Nurunnaha Miah touches the name of her son, Nurul, an office worker who died when the twin towers thundered down in a hail of fire and dust, debris and human flesh. Tourists walk quietly past, remembering that devastating day in the peaceful shade of the plaza's hundreds of oak trees.

The plaza's two reflecting pools outline the footprints of the World Trade Center's fallen towers. The bronze panels with the names of almost 3,000 dead stretch around the pools (most died on Sept. 11; some died in a 1993 attack on the World Trade Center).

The plaza is part of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum whose creation has been far from peaceful. Dogged by design controversy and cost overruns, the plaza finally opened last year on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The museum may open next year.

High above the memorial plaza the gleaming, ultramodern One World Trade Center nears completion; it will be New York's tallest skyscraper.

Amid the din of its construction and other World Trade Center rebuilding, visitors to the memorial plaza walk, weep and watch the rebirth of a corner of the city whose devastation reverberated around the world.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times' NWTraveler editor. Contact her at kjackson@seattletimes.com.

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