VALHALLA, N.Y. - Hundreds of Westchester residents came out to remember, to honor and to support on Friday evening - the 14th anniversary of the September 11 attacks - in a moving 9/11 memorial ceremony at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla.
The sunset ceremony (dubbed "Serve and Remember") at the plaza's 9/11 memorial, "The Rising," included brief comments from several county dignitaries.
But the most emotional moments came when family members read off the names of lost loved ones, as many in the audience fought back tears.
For so many, time, and the years, go by. But the pain - especially on each anniversary - remains.
This was Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino's sixth ceremony in an official capacity, and he said the day never gets any easier.
"I've got to know some of the families, and see them each year, and the pain never leaves their faces on this day," Astorino told Daily Voice at Friday's ceremony. "They continue to have to live through what happened that day... and that's tough.
"But it's nice that we come together as a community. I think that's really important to them. In fact I know it is because they tell us. That's why we keep doing this.
"And every year we wonder if the crowds will diminish. But they don't. There are hundreds of people here tonight. And it's done well, done solemnly. It's a time to still remember, but also to begin moving on, as we have been, by serving our community, and honoring those who died."
The ceremony included the laying of a memorial wreath by 9/11 family member Ester DiNardo, and the Ursuline School Choir singing the National Anthem. Michael Kaplowitz, Chairman of the County Board of Legislators, and Astorino, spoke briefly, and 9/11 family members and elected officials read the names of those who were lost - all at the base of the imposing memorial, that seems to rise up to the heavens.
Pleasantville High School's James McCarthy delivered a stirring rendition of "Ave Maria," and the Reverend Erwin Lee Trollinger gave the Benediction.
The evening ended with families and friends paying tribute - hugging, crying, sharing stories, photographs, and generally supporting each other - underneath and all around the impressive memorial, 'The Rising.'
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