Edward J. Mardovich III, whose father was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, had mixed emotions as he attended the Town of Huntington’s 9/11 ceremony Saturday in Heckscher Park.
“We always said we should never forget, and it’s nice that people haven’t,” said Mardovich, 33, of Huntington Bay. “But it’s just the same flood of emotions every year. They always say time heals everything, but not when you have to relive it year after year.”
About 150 people gathered under the bright sunlight to honor the 43 Huntington residents who were among the 2,753 people who perished in lower Manhattan.
The centerpiece of the ceremony was the reading of the 43 names. Veterans placed 43 roses, representing every man and woman killed, at the foot of the podium. Terrence Farrell, 35, of Huntington, rang a bronze bell as each name was recited — including that of his father, Terrence P. Farrell, an FDNY firefighter who was 45 when he was killed.
“Every year, of course it is difficult,” Farrell said. “But I also think it’s important to remember those who are lost. My story is just one of thousands of stories of thousands of families that were affected that day.”
Farrell, third assistant chief of the Dix Hills Fire Department, where his father also was a firefighter, was 14 at the time. The memories of that day remain imprinted in his mind.
He recalled getting the announcement of the attacks while sitting in homeroom at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington and initially thinking his father probably was unhurt, because his fire company, Rescue 4, was based in Woodside, Queens.
“As the night gets on, it’s, ‘Why hasn’t he called yet? Is he OK?’” Farrell said.
His father’s remains were found in the rubble on Oct. 26, 2001.
“We were able to find my father,” he said. “There are so many families out there who still haven’t been able to get a piece of their family members back. Those people went to work and never came home.”
Farrell is a high school history teacher. His students weren’t born when the attacks occurred, so he believes it’s especially important that “they can see the sacrifices the men and women made that day and how we all came together as a country afterwards.”
The nation’s unity after the attacks was on others’ minds as well, including that of Huntington Town Supervisor Ed Smyth.
“We should think back to those times and harness that unity in the times that we see now, [when] there’s so much division,” he told the crowd. “We can think back to the days following September 11 for inspiration.”
Mardovich was 12 years old when his father, then 42 and of Lloyd Harbor, was killed. Edward J. Mardovich II had been an executive with the brokerage firm Euro Brokers and worked on the 84th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Mardovich thinks of how much of his life his father missed, how he never was a grandfather to his three children.
The days surrounding Sept. 11 are — along with Christmas and his father’s Feb. 11 birthday — the most difficult of the year, Mardovich said.
“It definitely brings back all the memories and all the pain and horror of that day,” he said.