September 11, 2015 marks the 14th anniversary when the terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and drove two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and drove another into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.
In addition, another hijacked plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa., after some passengers attempted to regain control of the aircraft. Nearly 3,000 people died in the four attacks, including the 19 hijackers.
The Village of Cedarhurst Village officials, the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department and Lawrence School District students and faculty came together with residents to honor and remember the victims at Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park on Friday afternoon.
"This day is the most deeply felt, the most solemn day of remembrance in my lifetime," said Cedarhurst Mayor Benjamin Weinstock. "This is the Pearl Harbor of my generation. We are gathered here today to pause briefly from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives and we do this to remember, to reflect, and to never forget those we honor on our memorial on 9/11."
Maryann O'Rourke of Hewlett lost her husband, Kevin, a New York City Rescue Company 2 Fire Fighter. on Sept. 11. "I love that people remember, year after year, even if it's tough," she said. "It brings up feelings even 14 years later. There's a lot Kevin's missed out on, like his daughter getting married and he's never met his granddhildren."
O'Rourke's five-year-old grandson, Kevin Strome, knows about his grandfather's sacrifice. "His whole Rescue 2 truck blew up," he said. "Life will never be the same."
Ari Schonbrun, a Cedarhurst resident and 22-year veteran of working at Cantor Fitzgerald, survived the events on Sept. 11, despite being on the 78th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center. "I was changing elevators when the plane hit," he said. "I had no idea what happened, and all I saw at first was smoke. Then I saw my co-worker, Virginia DiChiara, who had third degree burns all over her body. Together, we got out of there. I helped her out of the building and she made me get in the ambulance with her. We were one of the last groups of people to get out of there alive."