Long Islanders prepare for annual 9/11 tribute

Time heals all wounds but for those who lost loved ones on September 11, it doesn't get any easier.

Lisa Burch lost her beloved big brother Andrew Stern. 

"He was always there for everybody, he was everybody's friend," she said. "You can never ever forget but I think that you can figure out how to live every day honoring the person who you lost." 

Each year on September 11, Burch and hundreds of other Long Islanders start their day on the beach in Point Lookout. 

The Town of Hempstead holds one of the largest sunrise memorial services to remember the lives of more than 450 Long Islanders who died on 9/11 and the lives lost in the weeks, months and years after to 9/11-related illnesses. 

Retired FDNY Lt. John Fee visits the site to pay his respects to friends lost. Among them is FDNY Firefighter Keith Young, who perished in March. 

"He was so dedicated to his passions, obviously his family, his work," Fee said. "And he was an excellent cook, too."

The service is held on the same beach where hundreds of residents gathered on September 11, 2001, looking west toward Lower Manhattan watching in horror as part of the skyline disappeared. 

"I want them to just come here and find that we can come together as a community, put aside our differences on this day," Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said. "And remember those who we've lost."

Last year, the town dedicated a September 11 monument featuring a 30-foot tall beam of World Trade Center steel, granite plaques engraved with the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks, a meditation table, and a pear tree grown from a seedling from the so-called survivor tree that lived through the destruction at ground zero. 

New this year is a memory box for people to write letters to victims. 

"We can still remember our loved ones. We have places like the beach, we have these beautiful memorials that have been built," Burch said. "And we do things in their name and it keeps us going."