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911-anniversary

Miller Place: For him, a time to be home

Anthony Flammia, of Miller Place, and his family

Anthony Flammia, of Miller Place, and his family pose for a picture. Photo Credit: Newsday/Stacey Altherr

Anthony Flammia, like other responders, was not invited to Ground Zero Sunday. So he stayed home in Miller Place and watched his daughters do cartwheels on the front lawn.

"I would rather be there with my family," he said of the ceremonies in Lower Manhattan. "It's frustrating, and frankly absurd, that we weren't invited. It's disrespectful."

An NYPD highway officer, Flammia was on the scene moments after the first plane hit, watching as the bodies of jumpers hit the pavement. He was assigned to bring bodies to the makeshift morgue on-site and to the medical examiner's office. Later, he was responsible for bringing Long Island victims' families to the bereavement center at One Police Plaza in Manhattan.

When he took a job with the Centre Island Police Department in Nassau County in December 2001, he didn't think he would suffer any lasting effects. "I thought I had beat it," he said.

But one night, he uncharacteristically fell asleep during an overnight shift, and Nassau police had to break in to his car to wake him, he said. Loud noises made him jump. He found himself getting easily agitated. In February 2007, he responded to a house fire in Bayville but didn't remember rescuing two victims. He sought help at the World Trade Center Monitoring Program, and was diagnosis with post-traumatic stress disorder and myriad medical issues. In 2008, he said, he was forced to retire.

His wife, pregnant with triplets on 9/11, miscarried two of the babies. Their daughter Gianna, now 9, was born with severe mental handicaps.

"I'm physically exhausted, my family's physically exhausted," he said. "Despite everything, I would do it again in a heartbeat."

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