HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (WPIX)—A sunrise ceremony began the day of remembrance on Long Island. Point Lookout Beach in the Town of Hempstead was filled with song and prayer.
"I can't believe it's 11 years, but it's like yesterday," said Jimmy Checco a retired FDNY firefighter. "I go here with my friends and we do this every year."
"It's a great thing to do. We devote this day to that day," said Gladys Kaufmann of Baldwin.
Many Long Islanders who lost loved ones have started to come to this memorial instead of going into Lower Manhattan. Pat Nitti came for her brother Brian McAleese. They spent time at the beach just 2 days before he died in the towers.
"He was a firefighter at Engine 226 in Brooklyn. He was just a wonderful guy, married with four little babies at the time he was killed ," said Nitti.
The bright clear sky and crashing waves were a back drop to the 15 foot tall seaside replica of the Twin Towers. After the ceremony people were invited to write messages of love on a mural, plant american flags in the sand and throw white carnations into a reflecting pool under a World Trade Center steel beam.
"I think the interactive nature of the ceremony really is what draws more and more people here to this beautiful beach each year," said Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray.
It was a beautiful morning for a touching service. But 11 years ago, under a similar sky, Long Islanders ran to Point Lookout and instead watched smoke billow from Lower Manhattan.