A night of reflection and remembrance — that was the cause at Eisenhower Park's Lakeside Theatre Wednesday as Nassau County residents arrived in droves to tribute those lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
"It's one of the greatest losses that America ever suffered in one day," Jim Hayes, a member of the Oceanside Fire Department said. "It's not just Manhattan, but the other two locations as well."
Hayes' wife was in the South Tower — the second tower that was attacked — when the plane struck, although she was able to escape.
"I remember what it felt like to not have contact until 3 p.m.," Hayes said. "Some of the people here have had that feeling for the past 10 years."
Many in attendance lost comrades on 9/11, and Joe Titone, a retired New York City firefighter from Massapequa, says he still gets emotional when he thinks about it.
"I knew five guys personally," Titone said. "I did this job for 20 years, and it's the greatest job in the world."
As Nassau residents piled in, they were greeted by Boy Scouts who were handing out programs, water and American flags. Scoutmaster Gary Murphy from Troop 382 in Hicksville said it's important to instill values at a young age, even though the kids are not old enough to remember Sept. 11.
"This is really important that they see exactly what's going on here tonight," Murphy said. "One of our scout's dad was killed on Sept. 11 in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The kids need to understand what happened on that really terrible day."
The program featured many speakers, including retired FDNY Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Esson, who said that even though New York City has "the best fire department in the world," help was needed on that tragic day.
"We all believe the same thing," Von Esson said. "We all believe that everybody has a choice. We know we don't have to do things alone."
Friends and families of those lost read off the names of those who died on 9/11, including a message from Connor Cahill of East Williston, who had something to say to his father Michael.
"Dad, I pray every day that you will come back to us," he said. "We miss you every day, and we will always love you."