James Flynn of Smithtown Sunday lifted his children, Hayley, 9, and Logan, 6, so they could touch the 7-ton piece of World Trade Center steel at the new 9/11 memorial in St. James.

Then James Flynn choked up, unable to speak as he recalled city firefighter Carl Bedigian, who had lived near his office in College Point, Queens. Bedigian, 35, left his home after learning of the attack on the Twin Towers, Flynn said.

"He was off-duty that day. He went in to save people there and he never came back," Flynn said. "That's a real New York City firefighter."

Following a ceremony dedicating the memorial, dozens of people tossed stones over a 2-foot-high stone wall surrounding the steel. Some placed flowers, saluted or made the sign of the cross.

The steel reminded Maryann Flynn, James' wife, of watching the towers fall 10 years ago.

"I wanted to touch that steel in disbelief that it's standing there," she said.

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The Flynn children weren't born when the towers fell.

"We want them to remember what it means for them and our country," Maryann Flynn said. "We want them to be better people."