(CNSNews.com) - Eight months after the Sept.11 attacks on the World Trade Center, New York City marked the end of cleanup and recovery efforts at Ground Zero.
A bell rang out four sets of five chimes, the traditional code for a fallen comrade, at 10:29 a.m., the moment the second building collapsed.
The New York Stock Exchange also observed two minutes of silence at 10:29 a.m.
Thousands were on hand - victims' families, firefighters, police officers, rescuer workers, and politicians, including former Mayor Rudolph Guiliani - as an empty stretcher carrying a folded American flag was carried up a 500-foot ramp from the site and into an FDNY ambulance.
The stretcher symbolized those who perished in the attack, but were never found.
"This is the closest point I guess I can get to being with him again," said David Bauer III, whose father - a Cantor Fitzgerald employee - was one of over 1,700 victims whose remains were never identified.
The crowd stood by silently as the ambulance, as well as a truck carrying the last steel beam from the World Trade Center, drove up the ramp. Police and fire buglers played taps, followed by "America the Beautiful" on bagpipes.
"It was tough to come here every day, and now it's tough to leave," firefighter John Keating said.
"On behalf of a grateful nation, I want to thank all of those who participated in the cleanup of that deadly site. And I want our nation to continue to offer our prayer to those families and friends and citizens who still hurt as a result of the attacks on September the 11th," President Bush said before a cabinet meeting in Washington.
Plans for a memorial and redevelopment of the site are being discussed, with an announcement expected as early as July, according to city officials.