For some still grieving those lost on Sept. 11 and those lost to illness 21 years later, returning to Tobay Beach brings comfort.
More than 100 family members and friends of those who died in connection with the terrorist attacks gathered at the beach in Massapequa to read the names of about 140 Oyster Bay residents included in the town's memorial.
"It has been a loss to us all. A loss to our communities, neighborhoods and families and the entire town and county," Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino said. "Time has not healed all the wounds and never will. But we will never forget your loved ones and their lives."
Family members were given white carnations to place on the memorial wall, lit in red, white and blue.
"It's been more than 20 years, but to so many of us, it feels like yesterday," Deputy Commissioner Patricia Beckerle said. "We hope this service in some way brings you comfort."
Joseph Zuzzolo, 54, of Bellmore, said he found closure, as he prepared to read three new names added to the town's wall of honor, including his mother Arlene Zuzzolo.
Also added this year were Gerard F. Erikson and Irwin "Jimmy" Reich.
Zuzzolo said his mother, 68, of Hicksville, died seven years ago from lung cancer, diagnosed from when she was taking financial classes in lower Manhattan on 9/11.
She emerged covered in dust after the Twin Towers fell and made it across a bridge back to Long Island.
Zuzzolo said his family struggled to understand the loss and he lost his father a year later as he struggled with the grief.
"It's angering," Zuzzolo said. "The most important thing for my sisters and me is closure.
This was her favorite place and where we spent our summers. She was always here and one of her favorite places she loved. It's perfect."
Zuzzolo is also being treated for 9/11-related lung ailments and other conditions after working six months in the recovery mission at Ground Zero.
The wall, dedicated in 2019 to those who died from 9/11-related illnesses, has about 40 names, in addition to a wall with about 100 names of those lost during the attacks.
Barbara Hoerner, 76, of Massapequa Park, said she came to remember her husband Ronald Horner, who worked as a security manager for a Port Authority contractor in both of the towers.
She said her husband, who was a retired state police officer, called her on 9/11 to tell her he was helping evacuate the towers after the two planes struck.
"He called and said he didn't know when he would be home and that was the last I heard from him," she said. "I come back here every year. It's very personal and comforting. This is home. It's a special part of my life."
Stephen Fusco of Hicksville said he came to remember his son NYPD Officer Scott Michael Fusco, 25, who died two years after working at Ground Zero and the landfill on Staten Island.
“It's surreal,” Stephen Fusco said. “Moments of sadness pop up every day,” he said.