Teary-eyed Long Islanders bowed heads in reverence and gazed up at American flags Thursday at events marking the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to honor family and friends killed that day.
In Islip, 100 people gathered by a granite pillar engraved with the names of the 90 Islip residents who were lost. They stood on the front lawn of Town Hall as a color guard carried the American flag to the wail of the Suffolk County Emerald Society Piper Band's bagpipes.
Several hundred people stood reverently under replicas of the Twin Towers during a morning service in Point Lookout while still more mourners in Lynbrook gathered around two steel beams from the fallen skyscrapers' rubble that form the village's memorial.
In Centereach, 300 people took part in a solemn candle-lighting ceremony.
"We will never forget," said Deirdre Hannett, 46, of Long Beach, who wrote in memory of her friend Steve Mosiello, an FDNY firefighter from Massapequa who died in 2011 after having worked as a first responder in the recovery effort at Ground Zero. "We will remember by honoring you every day."
Hannett was among more than 500 people at a 7:30 a.m. service at Point Lookout.
"This is my Pearl Harbor -- a catastrophic event that changed the world," said the Point Lookout-Lido Fire Department volunteer.
Clergy members spoke of remembrance and resiliency.
Msgr. Steven R. Camp, pastor of St. Christopher's Roman Catholic Church in Baldwin, said each anniversary still has a surreal aspect.
"Those that we mourn this day did not intend to be victims or become heroes; they were going about living and working in their ordinary lives," Camp said.
The ceremony raised awareness of victims who died years after the attacks, from post-9/11 illnesses, like NYPD Officer Francis Pitone, 55, of East Meadow.
He had worked at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island where debris and remains were transported, and he was diagnosed with lung cancer in April 2013. He died last August.
Nicole Pitone, 22, told the crowd that first responders like her father "did what they were told and trained to do . . . without questioning or regarding their own health."
The day he died, she said, "was the day my family lived 9/11 all over again," she said.
Among those at the Islip commemoration was Kathleen Desiderio, 51, of Great River.
"It shouldn't only be the families here," said Desiderio, who brought her teenage son and daughter.
Before the 5 p.m. ceremony, Rose Marie Chiofalo-Maggiore, 76, spoke of her 39-year-old son Nicholas Chiofalo, an FDNY firefighter with Engine Company 235 in Brooklyn who was killed on 9/11.
Chiofalo, of Selden, "had already done 24 hours and decided to turn around to stay on the truck and go to Manhattan" to the World Trade Center, she said.
"He went into the building three times," said Chiofalo-Maggiore, of Oakdale.
Relatives of 9/11 victims who attended the Lynbrook event at 6 p.m. laid a single white flower at stones in the courtyard memorializing the 20 Lynbrook residents and a Port Authority K-9 officer killed in the attacks.
Village officials read each name and held a moment of silence for those lost.
"We open our hearts for the children orphaned 13 years ago today," Cantor Jerry Korobow said. "Despite the horrible tragedy that occurred on 9/11, our country remains a shelter of peace and a beacon of light for compassion and justice."
William Wren and Richard Fitzsimons were fire safety directors for the World Trade Center who commuted together from Lynbrook each morning. They were both killed trying to evacuate the buildings when the towers collapsed.
Wren's daughter-in-law, Kathryn Wren, said the family just learned from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum that he was found with elevator keys in his pocket, likely used to help empty Tower 2 before it collapsed.
"It was a horrible day and I'm glad people still remember what happened and the people lost," Wren said. "It's not as raw now, but this day makes you stop and think. It brings everything back."
And a 15-minute service at the Centereach Fire Department culminated in a 7 p.m. candlelight ceremony.
"All across the country today, we honor both the living and the dead; we pay special tribute to the victims," said Centereach Assistant Fire Chief Robert Corley before about 300 people.
Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle, who represents Centereach, said: "Today was a great day for Centereach to come together and remember those who are lost. But also to remember the emergency services who rushed into danger and tried to help people. America really is the land of the free and home of the brave."
Others who attended the ceremony shared his sentiments.
"It's always a sad day for all of us," said Centereach resident Elissa Valenzano, 42, who has lived in the hamlet 11 years. "It's nice to pay tribute to the people we lost."