Connor Cahill walked up to the podium on the stage of the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theater at Eisenhower Park and calmly spoke the name of his father Michael John Cahill, who died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“Dad, we miss you a lot,” said the young boy. “And I pray every night that you would just come back to us…we miss you everyday and we’ll always love you.”
Cahill was just one of hundreds of family members who gathered at the Nassau County 9/11 memorial Wednesday night for a ceremony to honor county residents who died in the attacks. As a steady mist fell, families congregating on the lawn looked on silently, as the names of 349 victims were ready one by one.
The event was among the first of a series of ceremonies across Long Island this week in the run up to the 10th anniversary of the attacks Sunday. Suffolk County held a similar ceremony Thursday evening at the county memorial outside the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge. The Town of Oyster Bay will host theirs 7 p.m. Friday at Tobay Beach. The dozen other townships across LI are planning or have already held their remembrances.
Back in Nassau, some teary-eyed family members clutched pictures as they stood at the podium and told stories of loved ones lost.
“To the family and friends to those who lost their family, their mother, their fathers, sisters, brothers, we gather here today to offer the condolences of our county,” said County Executive Ed Mangano.
Donned in their uniforms, dozens of police officers and volunteer firefighters came in droves to remember their fellow first responders.
Eighteen volunteer firefighters were killed in the attacks, said Mangano, as they left their firehouse on Long Island to help save those stuck in the burning towers.
“We had never asked for help before in New York City, we never asked for mutual aid…But that day people knew that we needed help,” said former FDNY Chief Thomas Von Essen.
“They came,” he added, “you guys came.”
As the North Shore Pops Concert Band played in the background, 21 family members announced the names of all the fallen victims.
Jeanne Evans, who lost her younger brother Robert, had to pause as she ran down the names of people who perished. As the FDNY picture of Robert shook in her hands, she raised two fingers in the air and said, “Miss you much, dude.”
After making the short walk to the 9/11 memorial on the other side of the lake, and lighting a candle under the plaque engraved with his name, she stood in front of the memorial and remembered her fun-loving brother.
“It’s worse now than it has ever been,” she said. “Whoever said time heals, didn’t own a watch.”