'You cannot forget what happened to this country.' Islip and Smithtown hold 9/11 remembrance ceremonies
The Towns of Islip and Smithtown honored their residents and first responders who died 21 years ago during terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
A bell tolled for Long Islanders who died on and after 9/11, including 53 from Smithtown.
Henry Hughes, of Nesconset, lost his 30-year-old son Chris who was working at the World Trade Center that day.
“Chris was a good athlete. Football, baseball.. very good sport. He was very outdoorsy,” Hughes said.
He said the pain never goes away but his and the hearts of other families are lifted when they see people still paying tribute.
“If you would have asked me a long time ago if they would have been remembering 21 years later, I would have said no because, although it’s a great country, a lot of people forget,” Hughes said.
Smithtown Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim said it’s even more important to keep the memory alive every year.
“It has to continue. You cannot forget what happened to this country,” Wehrheim said
A similar ceremony was held in Islip that honored the 90 residents who died in lower Manhattan more than 50 miles away.
Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said the attack shook Islip as well as all of Long Island.
"We're so connected to Manhattan, so many people working on Wall Street, first responders, many members of the fire department, police department were lost, and these are our residents, part of our family here," Carpenter emphasized.
One of them included News 12 Long Island photojournalist Glen Pettit, an Oakdale resident who also volunteered with the West Sayville Fire Department.
Pettit was also an NYPD police officer who was shooting video for the department at the towers that day.
Chaplain George Munkenbeck had fond memories of him.
"He was a good firefighter, a good person and a very good police officer," Munkenbeck recounted.
Nearly 500 Long Islanders died on 9/11.