Community Unites for 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

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Village unveils new World Trade Center relic steel memorial

The sun’s powerful rays briefly pierced through an otherwise cloudy sky as Floral Park firefighters, police officers, village and government officials, clergy and residents gathered together last Saturday morning for the unveiling of the new 9/11 Memorial and dedication at Village Hall and fire department headquarters.

The creation of the relic steel memorial has been a long time in the making. In September of 2009, the September 11th Families Association, in conjunction with the Port Authority of NY and NJ, began taking requests from organizations interested in obtaining a steel artifact recovered from the World Trade Center site to create memorials honoring those whose lives were lost on 9/11.

In October of 2009, Floral Park Fire Department firefighters Eric O’Connor and Mike Saville submitted a letter requesting the artifact. After two years of filing paperwork, sending emails and making phone calls, the department was notified that the steel artifact was ready to be picked up.

Subsequently, the village formed a World Trade Center Relic Committee consisting of Mayor Tom Tweedy and several members of the fire department, village officials, local architect Frank Gunther, local engineer Tim Tweedy and Frank deOlivera from Alliance Welding, and began the process of preserving the 5000-pound artifact. The relic has been cleaned and modified by Alliance Welding for the creation of the monument, which has a granite base with plaques memorializing the 11 village residents who were lost on September 11, 2001.

Pastor Gainus Sykes of the United Methodist Church of Floral Park opened the dedication ceremony and said the memorial was an example of the 9/11 victims’ courage and a testament to their love and dedication. “May we move from suffering to hope, from brokenness to wholeness, from anxiety to courage, from death to life, from fear to love and from despair to hope,” Sykes said.

Standing alongside the twisted steel artifact, Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy told the audience that the relic beam is more than a memorial. “It is a work of art. I say that as, like art, it is evocative. Moving us, agitating us, overwhelming us with feelings and emotions, which are genuine and must be explored and best shared with others, friends and neighbors. Therefore it is wholly appropriate that we place this monument on the village green. As a resident of Floral Park, I am proud to have this relic steel memorial,” he said.

Floral Park Fire Chief John Kelleher reminded everyone that the very same steel in the monument was used to build the World Trade Center Twin Towers back in 1973. “On the morning of September 2001, four planes took off from two airports. On board these planes were terrorists..they thought by their cowardly act, that they would break our spirits and try and destroy us; they had the opposite effect. It showed what this country is all about,” Kelleher said.

As former Floral Park Mayor Ann Corbett read the names of the 9/11 victims, local Eagle Scouts placed roses at their names etched on the memorial. During the ceremony, the Nassau County Firefighters Pipe and Drum Corps played Amazing Grace and Pastor John Flack of Christ Lutheran Church offered a benediction.

In speaking to those gathered, Senator Jack Martins addressed the large crowd and thanked those who made the memorial a reality. He said few communities gave as much as the Floral Park community, not only as terms of those who were victims in the attacks themselves, but also the first responders. “We joined with you on 9/11, 2001; we continue to join with you today; and make a commitment that as a community we will never forget,” Martins said.

Resident and community leader William Corbett was in attendance and echoed the mayor’s sentiments about the day’s ceremony. “They killed a number of our people but they haven’t killed America’s spirit and America’s desire to go forward in this great nation. We all grieve on this day and I’m sure as you go past this monument, you can’t help but have tears in your eyes,” Corbett said.

Village Trustee Mary-Grace Tomecki commented after the dedication on what the memorial means to the residents and the village. “I think it’s significant for the Village of Floral Park to have acquired, and now to have put forth in a memorial type setting, a piece of steel from 9/11, from the World Trade Center…simply because Floral Park was so gravely impacted by the tragedy, having lost both businessman as well as firemen to this event. Now the village can come together, once again, remembering the loss and remembering our future as a stronger village,” Tomecki said.

The Floral Park residents who lost their lives on 9/11 were:

Michelle Bratton
Bill Dean
Keith G. Fairben
Ryan D. Fitzgerald
Howard Gelling
Thomas Hetzel
Robert C. King, Jr.
Ronald P. Kloepfer
Brian Magee
Charles Mendez
Robert M. Regan

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