Memorial service at park for Nassau's 9/11 victims

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Nearly a decade after the horrors of Sept. 11, dozens of people gathered Tuesday night for an Eisenhower Park memorial service.

Like years past, friends and families of the victims came from across Nassau County - Baldwin, New Hyde Park, Lynbrook among other communities - to remember those who lost their lives after two planes slammed into the World Trade Center.

Tears were shed and stories were told as they gathered at the September 11 Memorial, where the names of the 350 Nassau residents killed are chiseled in black granite. Friendships forged between relatives of those killed were rekindled amid the harsh truth that in some ways everything has changed but in others, nothing has.

"These are our native sons," said Margie Miller, 60, of Baldwin, who lost her husband, Joel Miller, who was working on the 97th floor of Tower One on the day of the attacks. "9/11 is not just an event that happened nine years ago. This is an ongoing event. The repercussions - political, emotional, personal - are still affecting us."

Since 9/11, Miller said, she has formed bonds with others who lost loves ones. She served as the program and family outreach coordinator for the WTC family center in Baldwin. She wears a silver bracelet with the name of her husband - a disaster recovery specialist and an assistant vice president at Marsh & McLennan Cos. - on her left wrist.

She said last night's event was a chance to not only remember victims but the people who came together to help those affected.

"We need to acknowledge how the community came together to support people," Miller said. "We want people to remember the names and faces of our loved ones."

Many in attendance set up chairs near the memorial. Others gathered along a nearby pond while some just stood in silence.

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The hourlong event included speakers reading the names of Nassau County residents who died during the attacks. Several speakers shared stories about life before, during and after the tragedy.

Two hundred and eighty-one Nassau residents were killed and an additional 69 residents, who didn't live in Nassau on Sept. 11, 2001, but had lived in the county for five consecutive years, also were honored.

On everyone's mind, it seemed, was how fleeting life can be, and how quickly everything can be taken away.

"You put it away for the year and try to go on with your life," said Lou Barbella, 45, of Lynbrook, whose brother, James W. Barbella, a leasing manager for the Port Authority, was killed. "Coming here is sad, but it's about remembering everybody . . . who went to work that day and never came home."

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