WOODBRIDGE, Va. - Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Many communities are marking the somber occasion with ceremonies. At one of those remembrances in Northern Virginia, one 9/11 widow is marking this anniversary with a heavy heart.
"Sometimes it can seem like a long time ago, a different lifetime ago," said Laurie Laychak. "And then the other times, it seems like yesterday."
She spent part of her morning at this 9/11 anniversary ceremony in Woodbridge. More than a few people told us that they cannot believe it has been 15 years.
"Just so shocked when I say that number,” Laychak said. “It just doesn't seem like it's 15 years. But really, all I have to do is look at my kids and look at a photo of when everything first happened and they were 7 and 9 [years old]. Now they are 22 and 24, and ‘Wow!’ You can tell there have been a lot of years.”
And yet, her emotions remain raw.
"Like Wednesday morning, I woke up with just a brick in my stomach – the feeling of the anticipation of what this was like,” she said. “No matter how much time goes by, you are just sent right back to when everything first happened."
Laurie's husband, David Laychak, was only 40 years old. He was a civilian working for the Army at the Pentagon when he was killed that terrible Tuesday morning.
"He's always a part of us and we are forever changed, our nation has changed,” said Laurie. “But even more so, our family has changed and we just miss him really, very deeply. Time doesn't change that."
Her children, Zach and Jenny, are both college graduates.
"Every special occasion is always going to be bittersweet,” said Laychak. “You are happy for your children for the things that they are doing, but then you are sad that Dave is not here to share in that and to see it. And I would so badly want to say, "Oh Dave, look at them!'"
At the Prince William County Liberty Memorial, there is a piece of limestone from the Pentagon. There are also four steel beams recovered from the World Trade Center.
Prince William County lost 22 people in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Their names are now engraved in stone at the memorial, which Laurie Laychak helped bring to life.
"We all share that fear that people will continue on as if nothing happened and we want people to remember,” said Laychak. “For us personally, we want them to remember our loved ones most certainly, but we want our country to just remember what happened on that day so that we don't become complacent and have another tragedy occur."