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On 9/11, Valley Stream couple celebrates life

Maria and Edwin Diaz attend the 9/11 ceremony

Maria and Edwin Diaz attend the 9/11 ceremony in the Memorial Garden of A.J. Hendrickson Park in Valley Stream. They both were in lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001 and witnessed the towers fall. Read the full story. (Credit: Newsday/Aisha Al-Muslim)

Maria Diaz of Valley Stream watched the twin towers fall from three blocks away. Her husband worked in one of them. The couple, both 40, now use Sept. 11 to celebrate their lives after surviving the attacks and for honoring those killed.

They were among more than 1,000 people gathered at Sunday's ceremony in the Memorial Garden of A.J. Hendrickson Park in Valley Stream.

"I am here to support those that lost their loved ones in my community Valley Stream and elsewhere," said Maria Diaz. Ten years ago, she was in a job training seminar at HSBC International. She still remembers seeing both towers smoking, then collapsing, she said

"I recall when the second plane hit, we just looked at each other and said, 'Oh my God. It is a terrorist attack,' " said Maria Diaz, who burst into tears. "It was mayhem and confusion."

Her husband, Edwin Diaz, who worked in One World Trade Center for Lehman Brothers, was running late to work that morning. He got stuck in the subway and it wasn't until he exited the West 4th Street train station that he realized what had happened.

"It was pretty traumatic," Edwin Diaz said. "Fortunately for me, I was stuck in the train."

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