POINT LOOKOUT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A sunrise ceremony was held Friday morning on Long Island to remember the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.

More than 1,000 people attended the Point Lookout ceremony, which is held on the same beach where crowds spontaneously gathered on Sept. 11, 2001 and looked across the water as part of the Manhattan skyline disappeared.

“We never forget,” one woman in attendance told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “Especially New Yorkers, it’s just in our hearts. It’s here to stay.”

One of those attending Friday’s ceremony was retired FDNY firefighter Robert Beckwith. Days after the attack, he was joined by President George W. Bush while standing on top of a fire truck covered in soot and dust from ground zero.

“I’m waiting for the politician to come here and I turned around and said, ‘Are you OK Mr. President?’ And he said, ‘Where are you going?’ I told him I was told to get down and he said ‘You stay right there,'” Beckwith told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “He started to talk. I don’t know where he got the bullhorn, he didn’t have it when I pulled him up. He later had the bullhorn and the guys on the left, they started to chant ‘We can’t hear you!’ so he turned to the right and said, ‘I can hear you, the whole world — when we find the people who knocked these buildings down, they will hear all of us’ and the whole place went crazy. It was beautiful.”

The event is Long Island’s largest 9/11 memorial service. As part of this year’s ceremony, residents were invited to write the names of victims and messages on a 35-foot “inspiration mural.”

Nearly 500 Long Islanders were killed in the attacks.

Linda Giammona lost her brother Vincent. September 11, was his 40th birthday.

“I am thankful that we have so many people who still remember and want to pay their respects for the lives lost on that day, but most importantly the people who continue to protect and serve us,” she told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

Nikki Sliwack was only 3 when she and two siblings lost their dad.

“I feel like each year that goes by gets tougher because you realize how much he misses in your life,” she said.

“You heal all year and then the wound is, the band aid is ripped off, the wound is very raw again every year,” Susan Sliwack said.

The pain of loss tempered by the strength of unity, a community coming together. Capped off with a solemn procession of flags and carnations, each with a message for a life lost.

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