Hundreds Pay Tribute to Hometown 9-11 Heroes
A moving ceremony hosted by the Floral Park Reliance Engine Company paid tribute to two heroes of 9-11 from Franklin Square and Floral Park. The Reliance Engine hosted the famed 9-11 Patriot Flag and Tractor Trailer Memorial Wall in a program attended by hundreds. The Flag and Memorial Wall stopped in Floral Park to honor those who were lost in the 9-11 terror attack at the World Trade Center.
The flag is making a tour of all 50 states and flew over Floral Park during a ceremony at the Floral Park Reliance Engine Firehouse. Firefighter Ken Fairben served as the program MC and was joined by engine companies from Garden City, Elmont, Franklin Square, Floral Park and other departments throughout the area.
Firefighters, police officers, NYPD, emergency service personnel and community members came out to remember and reflect upon those lost. Throughout the ceremony, people streamed up to the Memorial Wall, took pictures and touched the names of family members, friends and colleagues on the wall painted and etched on the trailer. A memorial flag and special book were available to community members to sign and inscribe a special tribute.
State Senator Jack Martins, County Legislators Vincent Muscarella and Rich Nicolello were joined by Floral Park Mayor Kevin Greene, Mayor Elect Tom Tweedy, Trustees Dominic Longobardi, Mary Grace Tomiecki and Jim Rhatigan. The ceremony, according to Senator Jack Martins, was “poignant and very meaningful to the hundreds that gathered. We stood together to remember, reflect and pay tribute to two heroes and many community members and neighbors who touched the lives of so many in Floral Park and Franklin Square. Their names are on that wall and in many memorials throughout our State. We will never forget them.”
Along with the Patriot Flag, a “rolling memorial,” which consists of an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer owned by a Minnesota trucker, was a part of the ceremony. The truck has murals of firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel. All victims of the 9-11 attack are painted on the truck in alphabetical order. The ceremony this past weekend paid special tribute to two local firefighter heroes — Keith Fairben of Floral Park and Ronald Kloepfer of Franklin Square who were lost in the terror attack.
Local leaders offered words of inspiration and reflection on the ceremony and its significance to the greater community. The 30-foot by 55-foot flag was hoisted on two firetrucks for most of the ceremony. High winds during the program snapped the cables to the flag. Firefighters and police officers caught the 75-pound flag and held it outstretched during the ceremony. One firefighter remarked, “to hold the flag and have almost 100 volunteers hold it in their hands during this time was very powerful and meaningful to me.”
Many in the audience felt that our local firefighters and community members holding the flag during the program was a more powerful way to remember those who were lost.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, community members, firefighters, police officers, trustees, Senator Martins, Mayor Tweedy and County Legislators Muscarella and Nicolello stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the firefighters in folding the flag. The more than 100 men and women worked together to fold the ceremonial flag working together side by side.
State Senator Jack Martins said, “This was an incredibly moving ceremony that touched everyone. Ken Fairben, the Reliance Engine and all our firefighters, emergency service personnel and community made this day one we will never forget. Having the Patriot Flag, the Memorial Wall and the Remembrance Banner at this ceremony was an honor and privilege that all of us in attendance will cherish for a very long time. For me, signing the flag and book was a moment of great personal reflection that I will always remember.”