Danville 9/11 memorial brings community together 18 years after terrorist attacks

It was a very patriotic evening. The stars and stripes were out in full force as more than 200 people gathered at All Wars Memorial, Oak Hill Park In Danville.

Honoring those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.  

"Even after 18 years, it’s difficult to talk about," said Thomas Esposito of Danville. 

Esposito was a volunteer for The Salvation Army at ground zero shortly after the attack. He said his cousin died inside the south tower. He was one of many on hand to share stories and remember one of the most tragic days in our nation's history. 

"I watched all the old news clips and maybe there is something I haven't seen or something to learn, but it’s something that is seared into my soul," Esposito said.  

"One of my co-workers ran out and she said to me, "Jolie did you hear what happened? The Twin Towers they collapsed," said Gold Star mom Yolanda "Jolie" Vega.  

'I was on the 13th floor across the river from New York City when I heard somebody talking about a plane hitting the World Trade Center," said FBI Special Agent John Bennett.

Bennett, who was the keynote speaker, grew up in New York and shared his heartfelt story with an audience including Gold Star moms, active and retired military, first responders and community members.

All of whom held onto his every word as he described a day he truly will never forget. 

"The mighty New York skyline reshaped by hate and terror in less than 30 minutes," Bennett said.  

Also in attendance was Danville's Neri family. Zyan recently joined the Marines and is back from boot camp. 

Although he was less than a year old when 9/11 happened, he and his father both said it is part of the reason he wants to fight for his country. 

"I feel like I need to serve and the title Marine is something I can't really describe," Zyan Neri said.  

"It’s very humbling and honorable that he made that decision on his own and the fact that he wants to serve and give back to his country that has given him a lot," said Seth Neri.

Some here said with the country being so divided, it’s a good feeling to come together as one and to remember the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives 18 years ago.

"I watched the Twin Towers go up over years. Probably close to a decade and on 9/11, I watched them come down in a matter of seconds," said Bennett

Organizers said that this was one of their most well attended events. They're already planning next year’s ceremony.