A photograph of a father’s private moment mourning the son he lost on 9/11 is among the most viral photographs of the year.
When former Mason resident Robert Peraza knelt to say a prayer at his son’s name on the 9/11 Memorial in New York City on Sept. 11, photographer Justin Lane caught the moment.
The photograph quickly became, as many have described it, an iconic symbol of a nation’s grief.
The Enquirer was among numerous media outlets to publish the picture, which appeared on the cover of the Washington Post, the New York Daily News and the New York Post to name a few.
The grieving father’s moment has since become one of the most viral photographs of the year, according to Buzzfeed.com, a website that aggregates news stories that have gone “viral” or are widely distributed online.
Peraza, a Procter & Gamble retiree, is the father of Robert David Peraza, 30, who was working as a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of 1 World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
- Photos: Remembering Robert D. Peraza
He had been selected as a reader at the tenth anniversary ceremony, but took a moment to walk near the memorial’s North Pool before the memorial opened to family members.
“I was just honoring Rob… I was saying a prayer for his soul,” Peraza, 68, told ABC News. “It was very, very emotional.”
Peraza, a former president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati, and his wife, Suzanne, lived in Mason at the time of the attacks but have since moved to Clermont, Fla. His son lived in the Mason area in the late 1990s.
It’s been a tough road for the Perazas since the day when two hijacked jets crashed into the twin towers, a third plunged into the Pentagon, and a fourth went down in a Pennsylvania field before reaching its target.
“Closure, in my opinion, is a very overstated term,” Peraza told The Enquirer in September as the tenth anniversary of the attacks approached.
“Rob was murdered on that day, and every year we are reminded of that. The wounds, in a sense, never healed.”
The family established a scholarship fund in Rob’s memory at St. Bonaventure University in western New York State, where he earned his undergraduate and masters degrees. So far, about $250,000 has been raised.
They still talk about Rob frequently, said Robert’s younger brother, Neil Peraza, 38, of Orlando, Fla. His three children all know who “Uncle Rob” was.
“After 9/11 my wife and I realized that life continues and you have two children you have to live for,” Robert Peraza told ABC. “Rob was the kind of young man who would have been very upset if my wife and I wilted.”
After the photograph was taken, Robert Peraza, who wore a t-shirt bearing his son’s face, joined family members of other victims to read the names of the dead and pay tribute to his son.
“Dearest Robert we love you and pray for you every day,” he said. ”We are with you all the time and we’ll never forget, we’ll never forget, we’ll never forget.”