WHITE PLAINS — There were about 100 people gathered by the water in Liberty Park Friday evening, but Nora Sosa-Iles and her daughter, Sunshine Iles, said they would have been there even if no one else came.
"For us, 9/11 isn't just one day," Sunshine Iles said, clutching a photograph of her and her cousin, Linda Sheehan, who was killed at the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. "We live with it every day, all year long. And it still hurts."
The city's official observance of the attacks remembered the six White Plains residents who were killed at the monument that bears their names. The crowd included Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who were too young to remember, along with police and firefighters who remembered all too well.
Sept. 11 tribute to Hudson Valley victims
The Common Council and other elected officials were there, as were a number of other city officials and employees.
The Archbishop Stepinac High School football team attended in their jerseys, to honor the memory of Joseph Riverso, who had been an assistant coach for the team.
"I watched Joe grow up," said 66-year-old Natalie LaFace, who held an American flag as tears streamed down her face. "Being here brings back a lot of memories of when he was a little boy. He was so loved by everybody."
Saying that it was fitting and appropriate for the city to host the annual commemoration, Mayor Adam Bradley recalled Sept. 11 as "a somber, sad wakeup call, which informed all of us that liberty, freedom and our way of life were under attack. ..."
To the families and friends of those who died, he said, "I hope and pray that as time goes by, your pain subsides and your pride increases. ..."
The half-hour ceremony included prayers and song. Common Council members laid a red, white and blue wreath of flowers at the monument.
"It still hurts and time doesn't change that," said Nora Sosa-Iles, who was Linda Sheehan's aunt. "During the first few anniversaries, you felt like she was on vacation and would come back some day. It feels more final now. But we have to celebrate her life, not just remember how she died. Otherwise, the terrorists win."
The other White Plains residents killed on Sept. 11 were Sharon Balkcom, Marisa DiNardo, Hemanth Kumar Puttur and Gregory Rodriguez.