It’s been 21 years since the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001. And the way that New Yorkers have been processing the tragedy from year to year has continued to evolve.

In downtown Brooklyn, 46-year-old Don Freeman said he had mixed feelings about the day. He said he was still affected by more recent tragedies, like the mass shooting in Texas, and the pandemic.

“The heaviness of the moment is not lost on me, but we’ve been living in a heavy moment for the past three years,” Freeman said. “It used to be, there was a tragic moment and the nation had time to process it. Now we’re living in a tragic moment and no one processes it, ever – at all.”

In Lower Manhattan at Ground Zero, Vice President Kamala Harris stood with New York City Mayor Eric Adams as the National September 11 Memorial & Museum held its annual commemoration ceremony. Families directly affected by the attacks received formal invitations to attend in August, according to the memorial’s website.

President Joe Biden laid a wreath at the Pentagon, while first lady Jill Biden was in Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 crashed into a field on that tragic day.

This year, Crystal Rivers, 50, from Crown Heights, said she was thinking about the recent killing of top Al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who helped plot the 9/11 attacks.

“It’s just a sad moment. It’s raining, and they say when it rains, people are at peace. It’s a bittersweet moment for me today,” she said. “The sweetness is they did catch the people that bombed the towers, and we can go on and live our lives for today and celebrate the people that we have lost.”

Rebecca Shaw was 11 years old on September 11th, 2001 and said she still remembers her father picking her up from middle school and seeing the ash coming down on the cars nearby. She said it looked like snow falling. Each year that passes, she said, the event feels a little less heavy.

“To me somehow that still feels like the turning point in how I, as a young person, perceived what America was and what it stood for, Shaw said. “I think that set the tone for me of how I understand modern day America. And unfortunately, I think it’s really gone further and further down the same rabbit hole.”

She said she planned on marking the day by going to see Come From Away, a musical about 9/11.

Two beams of light – symbolizing the twin towers – will shine from Lower Manhattan into the sky through the end of Sunday night.