Liverpool principal owner John Henry praised the perseverance of the Hillsborough families in their campaign for justice, admitting he was "humbled" by their dignity.
I can understand the importance of the 96 to the club. I have been humbled by the dignity and perseverance of the families in their search for truth and justice.” -- Liverpool owner John Henry
The American owner, significantly making his first appearance at the annual service to remember the 96 people who died in the 1989 disaster, gave a reading before addressing thousands assembled on the Kop at Anfield.
"I can understand the importance of the 96 to the club," Henry said. "I have been humbled by the dignity and perseverance of the families in their search for truth and justice."
He added: "It is an honor to be here on this particular day, the first service since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report. Now there is a real belief that justice will be served.
"This club will always cherish the memory of family and friends lost 24 years ago today. They will forever be part of Liverpool Football Club."
Henry's reading was followed later in the afternoon by Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, symbolizing the way in which the city had been united in both grief and the subsequent quest for justice.
"I hope since that day you have known the support of Everton Football Club for you," he said. "I hope by this time next year you will be celebrating the greatest victory that a team in this country could do."
Henry and Kenwright were joined by Liverpool chairman Tom Werner, manager Brendan Rodgers, backroom staff and players in the Kop in front of thousands of members of the public, some carrying banners, many wearing the colors of Liverpool and also plenty in Everton blue.
Many former players attended, including Kenny Dalglish, who was also the manager at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and returned to the club for a second spell in 2011, Alan Hansen, who played in the ill-fated semifinal, and Kevin Keegan.
The arrival of the Hillsborough families, en masse, prompted a prolonged standing ovation from the members of the public seated immediately behind them on the Kop.