Long Islanders gather to remember 9/11
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Across Long Island, dozens of communities held Sept. 11 memorial services Tuesday in which participants honored those killed in the attacks. The solemn observances began with a sunrise service at Point Lookout and continued throughout the day in schools and at firehouses, in parks and village halls, on beaches and bridges, and at monuments old and new. The names of victims were read; in Islip, accompanied by a guitarist playing "Wish You Were Here." As dusk fell, a crowd gathered on the green near Village Hall in Garden City, one of the communities hardest hit by the events of Sept. 11.
Here are vignettes from some of the many memorials:
Colleen Corrigan walked up to the 35-foot-wide mural of a New York skyline dominated by the Twin Towers. Written there already were the thoughts of others gathered here.
"We miss you. Love Mom + Dad," one message read.
"Daddy, you will forever be my hero," someone wrote for a New York City police officer.
About 1,500 people assembled at Point Lookout just after dawn to kick-start another day of remembrance on a morning hauntingly like the one 11 years ago -- clear and deceptively idyllic.
Even the pre-dawn was the same, said Susan Young, 54, of Lynbrook. "I'll always remember the number of stars that morning," she said, as she listened to a choir and speakers.
Also in the crowd was Corrigan, 36, of Massapequa, who wrote a simple message on the mural: "Capt. James Corrigan, we miss you."
Her husband, Sean Corrigan, 36, said his father, James Corrigan, was a retired FDNY captain working as the fire safety director for the World Trade Center. After the towers were struck, he died evacuating a day care center adjacent to the towers. His legacy: None of the children died.
The mural stands, Hempstead Town officials said, where many instinctively went that day to watch in horror as black smoke spewed from the Twin Towers in the distance.
The gathering Tuesday included Hempstead and Levittown firefighters in dress uniform, and children holding white carnations and small American flags.
Some cast their flowers into a reflecting pool. Others tossed them into the ocean and watched them drift slowly away.
Jewel Weinstein, 71, of West Hempstead, walked up to the mural and asked which building was the north tower.
Her son-in-law, Brendan Dolan, 37, of Glen Rock, N.J., died in the north tower. She struggled to speak; it was 10:30 a.m. "He died at 10:27," she said. She wrote that his wife and two daughters were doing well.
She used a green marker. "He was an Irish boy," she said.
Eleven years later, the feelings of anger, hurt and loss are still there, said Anthony Del Gigante, of East Islip.
Del Gigante, 44, stood at the Sept. 11 memorial outside Islip Town Hall with his wife and two young sons, staring at the marble slab that bears his cousin's name and the names of 90 other victims with ties to the town.
Thomas Mingione, a New York City firefighter with Ladder Company 132, was 34 when he entered the south tower and never emerged, Del Gigante said. At the time, Mingione's wife was six months' pregnant with their first child, a girl who would be named Amanda.
"It's nice to have a place to come, just to remember him," Del Gigante said, his voice breaking. His family was joined by about 100 other people, including federal, county and local politicians, religious leaders, representatives from the town's volunteer fire departments, and residents who came to pay respects.
"The best thing we can do to honor that sacrifice is to continue to ask, 'Would they be proud of what we've done since then? Would they be proud of the direction we're going?' " town Supervisor Tom Croci said in brief remarks to the crowd.
As members of the Town Board took turns reading the Islip victims' names, Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, clad in a long-sleeved red dress, began to cry. Some in the crowd crossed themselves, others bowed their heads.
Asked about the first words that come to his mind now, Del Gigante said, "Still anger. Still loss. It's still tough to reconcile 11 years later. It seems like just yesterday he was here. He's gone."
Gathering to memorialize Sept. 11 meant a reunion for students at Robert Moses Middle School.
Those who have moved on to high school came back to the North Babylon school's courtyard Tuesday for the unveiling of two 6-foot likenesses of the Twin Towers -- built to scale -- that they, other students and the school's staff labored to create.
"It's really cool," said Jeannie Reyes, 14, now a ninth-grader at North Babylon High School. "It's like a piece of us is still at this school, even though we're not at this school."
The gray ceramic-tile towers were the result of hours of work in an art club that met after school throughout the 2011-12 school year -- work that gave shape to the students' social studies lessons about Sept. 11.
Social studies teacher Dale Walden, moved by the 10th anniversary, had approached art teacher Joyce Orrigo with a concept for the project. Orrigo, in turn, designed the structures.
"It was a learning experience, not just an art experience, because many of the students had not been around when this tragedy occurred," Walden said.
Tuesday afternoon, after the Pledge of Allegiance and songs from the school chorus, white doves were released into the blue sky. Two of the 12 club members who worked on the project removed fabric covering the towers, and a crowd of more than 60 people applauded.
Fashioned into the miniature buildings is a banner of red, white and blue mosaic tiles that reads: "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace," words attributed to Jimi Hendrix.
Said Orrigo: "I think it had a little to do with the future and hope of peace."
Several members of the Commack school community wanted to make sure their neighbors would never forget those they lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
A committee of 15 students, staffers, alumni, a first responder and residents worked for months to create the memorial, unveiled under a setting sun Tuesday night at Commack High School.
Families who lost loved ones in the terror attacks, along with firefighters, police, elected officials and residents gathered to see the slab of granite with a piece of World Trade Center steel on top -- a place where people can go to remember the six individuals whose names are engraved on the monument.
One of those inscriptions honors James Munhall, a Commack graduate, who worked at Sandler O'Neill, and was on the 104th floor in the south tower when the plane hit, said his mother, Marie Munhall, who sat at Tuesday night's event with her daughter, Kathleen Abidin.
Munhall, of Amityville, said she marks the anniversaries of the attacks only at memorials hosted by the Commack schools.
"I feel at home," she said. "I still hear from people in the community. . . . They never forgot Jim."
During the ceremony at the school's track, the names of the six dead were read out loud and many participants held lit white candles. After several speakers addressed the crowd, the group moved to the memorial nearby as it was revealed, and family members laid wreaths.
On the ground, surrounding the monument, hundreds of pieces of colored stones were placed to create mosaics with the emblems for the NYPD, FDNY and Port Authority Police Department.
"Jim will live on forever," said Abidin, of Garden City, referring to having her brother's name dedicated on the monument.
For the past 11 years, Garden City -- one of the hardest-hit communities on Long Island on Sept. 11, 2001 -- has been trying to heal after losing 23 residents.
About 150 people gathered at a memorial service Tuesday night on the Village Green near Village Hall to mark the anniversary.
"We are here to remember the 23 friends and neighbors we lost during that day," Garden City Fire Department Chief Charles S. Cavarra said.
The emotional ceremony, hosted by the fire department, paid tribute to friends, family and co-workers who lost their lives in the World Trade Center. The name of each person who died -- engraved in the memorial monument stone on the Village Green -- was read, while firefighters tolled a bell, lit a red candle and placed a rose for each victim in front of the monument.
A teary-eyed Leslie Dimmling, 58, of Garden City, remembered her husband, William Dimmling, who was 47 when he was "murdered," she said. Her husband was working for the Marsh & McLennan insurance company on the 90th floor in the north tower.
"The community has been very supportive," said Dimmling, whose sons Gregory, 25, and Nicholas, 17, also attended the ceremony and visited their father's grave in Pinelawn Memorial Park earlier in the day. "It's not easy to forget because there are always things that remind you. The films of the falling Twin Towers are very difficult to watch."
Village Mayor Donald Brudie recalled being in lower Manhattan that day and seeing the north tower hit first, and witnessing people jumping out of windows.
"A beautiful day all of a sudden turned nighttime," said Brudie, who ended up being covered with dust and other particles from the falling towers. "The debris was all over the air."