The image of police and firefighters racing past him into the south tower of the World Trade Center as he rushed out of the building that would later collapse under its own weight is seared in Rick Greenstein's memory.
"God, how brave and amazing these men were," Greenstein, 67, of Oceanside, said Friday at the Town of Hempstead's annual sunrise Sept. 11 memorial at Point Lookout.
It was one of several observances on Long Island, where firefighters and residents also gathered for a ceremony at the firehouse in East Northport. And, in Manhasset, they unveiled a plaque honoring the 56 North Hempstead town residents killed in the attacks.
Survivors stood alongside relatives of those who died. They called out the names of those who perished, sang songs and remembered the sacrifices of those who responded with valor and compassion to horrific scenes of carnage.
Greenstein, a Morgan Stanley employee who worked on the 73rd floor, had served as an office marshal and helped evacuate colleagues, along with co-worker Joshua Frankel.
Frankel, who also attended the memorial, said the stairway was congested on the last 30 or so floors on their descent, as firefighters rushed up carrying heavy gear.
"I was thinking to myself, 'Where are they going? Because I knew what they were going to face,' " said Frankel, 44, of Woodbury.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said Greenstein and Frankel "embodied the soul of our nation and the character of our people in the face of unimaginable evil and incalculable danger."
Each of the more than 1,000 people at the Town of Hempstead's annual ceremony had a personal reason for recalling that horrible day.
John Passanisi, 44, an ironworker from Long Beach, said he wanted to say "silent prayers for the 3,000 murdered Americans."
After the attack, Passanisi was dispatched to help dismantle and haul away beams. He spent a month working at the site.
"You didn't really sleep for two days," said Passanisi, whose colleagues from Ironworkers Local 361 in Ozone Park helped build the towers in the mid-1960s.
Nearly 500 Long Islanders were among almost 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on a plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
"We have assembled ourselves on this day all across this great nation, holding hands, giving embrace, teaching our young . . . what we experienced, and the lessons we have learned from that tragic event," said the Rev. Eric Mallette of Greater Second Baptist Church in Freeport. "Our hugging one another and sharing words of encouragement will give us as a people much-needed solace."
They sang "God Bless America" aloud. Loved ones, among others, wrote messages on a 35-foot "inspiration mural." An 18-foot chromium replica of the World Trade Center towered above a mural of Manhattan's skyline.
Grandfather an architectRichard and Lori McCrossin of West Hempstead attended their sixth memorial at Point Lookout.
Richard McCrossin, 55, said his grandfather was an architect for the design models for the towers. Lori McCrossin, 51, said they were there "to pray with everybody else, celebrate the lives that were lost and pray for the families."
After another ceremony in Manhasset, at North Hempstead Town Hall, a glass and wood-cabinet structure displaying a piece of steel beam from the World Trade Center was unveiled.
It bore the names of the 56 town residents who died on 9/11.
Armine Giorgetti, of Manhasset, whose husband, Steven, was among those killed, said he normally worked in midtown, at Marsh & McLennan Companies. But on that day he was at the World Trade Center on business.
"We have to remember. We can't forget," she said. "It's important to me knowing that our country, our nation, will never forget. And we have to honor everyone, first responders and good Americans going to work that day."
In East Northport, members of the hamlet's fire department gathered in front of the firehouse on Ninth Avenue for the annual memorial service in that community.
Robert Farrelly, 28, of East Northport, whose father Thomas, a computer programmer for Accenture, was killed on 9/11, was there with dozens of East Northport firefighters and residents who attended a memorial at the firehouse in honor of those who died during the terror attacks.
"You start to relate to the kind of raw feelings of that time," Farrelly said after the ceremony. "At the same time, there is really something to be said for the support of the community like the fire department, so many individuals and organizations that really do everything they can to reach out and be there for you."
Two fire ladders held a large American flag across the avenue, and a group from Northport High School sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." A siren sounded at the exact times when each tower fell.
Fire Lt. Brian Hinton of the fire department said: "May we truly never forget the nearly 3,000 souls who perished that day."
With Darran Simon, William Murphy and Tania Lopez