POINT LOOKOUT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mourners from Long Island gathered at Point Lookout for a sunrise service to remember the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Nearly 500 Long Islanders were killed in the attacks 13 years ago.

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“As we mark the 13th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks on America, it is important to pause and remember the nearly 3,000 people we lost that day,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said in a statement. “As Americans, we will always stand united. Today, as we remember the tragic events of 2001, we renew our faith in democracy and the unbeatable American spirit that cannot be defeated by cowardly acts of terrorism.”

The Point Lookout ceremony is held on the same beach where hundreds of residents gathered spontaneously on Sept. 11, 2001 and looked across the water as part of the Manhattan skyline disappeared.

Remembering 9/11: Full Coverage | Iconic Images | Anniversary Events

Two 18-foot-tall sand-covered towers are the centerpiece of the World Trade Center memorial at Point Lookout.

As part of the ceremony, mourners can plant an American flag at the memorial, cast a flower into the reflecting pool and write the name of a loved one across a mural depicting the Manhattan skyline.

“What’s unique about our ceremony is that there’s a really interactive nature to it and I think that’s what puts the emphasis on our guests, not on anybody else, but all about the grieving families, and friends, and relatives,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray. “It really brings our guests right into the ceremony and I think that’s an important aspect of it.”

“It is about our community, it is about healing and it is about giving solace and comfort,” Murray added.

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The ceremony is Long Island’s largest 9/11 memorial event, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

It brought together those who lost loved ones with their neighbors and friends amid raw emotion and enduring memories.

“I just like to see the turnout, it just means that nobody’s really forgetting,” said Joseph Higgins, who lost his brother.

“It’s very hard to relive this, yet it’s so nice that so many people remember,” said Sangeeta Wall, a family member of a 9/11 victim.

“For the future I would hope that this continues forever,” said FDNY Captain David Fenton, a 9/11 survivor.

Retired FDNY Firefighter Bob Beckwith had an important message for those who came to ground zero to assist with recovery efforts in the days after the attack.

“These young people who were helping us down at ground zero, and some of them still never signed up for the 0/11 health benefits, and I wish they would,” he said.

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