Long line forms at Ground Zero platform
From Brian Palmer
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Thousands of people are putting in long hours to reach the new viewing platform overlooking the former World Trade Center site.
The line has snaked for blocks through lower Manhattan as people wait their turn to witness the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
"I'd say it's the most important nation-shaping event in my lifetime," said David Crosby, a New Orleans, Louisiana, pastor who waited patiently last week to see the site first-hand.
Standing just a few steps away were Dorothy and Sherman Dillard of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who also waited their turn to reach the platform at Church and Fulton streets.
"I can feel it at a distance, but I really want to feel it up close," Dorothy Dillard said.
The new platform is the first of four planned for the site, which officials said are being built to give the public a safe location to view the devastation without getting in the way of the recovery effort.
"It's just a moment in history, and I think it helps to solidify all the events here," said Tim Bosi, a telephone equipment salesman.
Mariel Fernandez, an executive assistant from Paterson, New Jersey, brought relatives from Puerto Rico to Ground Zero.
"It's like a hole. It looks like hell," said Fernandez, who wrote a memorial on the bare plywood of the viewing platform. "It looks bad."
Others who approached the site remembered friends, loved ones and colleagues killed when the planes crashed into the twin towers.
One man penned a tribute to Joseph Agnello, a firefighter with Ladder Company 118 in Brooklyn Heights. His remains, along with those of Peter Vega and Lt. Robert Regan, were recovered on New Year's Day.
"It's opened old wounds," firefighter Anthony Carbone said. "You start to get to that point when time heals a little bit, but the fact of the matter is that you really want them back, you really want them out of there, you want to be able to place them in a grave and know that there's a place to rest for them."
The design and construction of the platforms were funded privately through a foundation set up by four architects. No completion date is set for the other three platforms, so the long waits may continue.
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