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Centereach Fire Department 9/11 monument unveiled

The Centereach Fire Department unveiled its 9/11 memorial

The Centereach Fire Department unveiled its 9/11 memorial with a lit up piece of steel from the World Trade Center, with plaques on its base with the names of Centereach natives, Matthew T. O'Mahony and James A. Nelson, engraved onto it. (Sept. 11, 2012) Credit: Brittany Wait

Ginny Ormiston watched as her 12-year-old twins, Shaun and Justin, lit candles on Tuesday evening to honor the thousands who died 11 years ago from the attacks on the World Trade Center.

She was most impressed with the monument — a piece of steel from the WTC that was lit up with plaques on its base — that was unveiled at the Centereach Fire Department to honor those who perished that day. The names of Centereach natives and 9/11 victims Matthew T. O’Mahony and James A. Nelson were engraved on the plaques.

“Look at the steel beams on the monument,” said Ormiston, 48, of Centereach. “I can’t imagine that something as strong as that could crumble the way it did and change the world like it did.”

Ormiston was among the 300 people who came to the ceremony, which began with the color guard raising the American flag, the Centereach High School choir singing throughout, the playing of the taps, unveiling of a new memorial and residents lighting candles.

Helen O’Mahony Bradley sat with her family as her son Matthew, who worked as a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor of the North Tower, was honored. He died at age 39.

“He called me that morning when I was on my way out the door,” said O’Mahony Bradley, 77, of Centereach. “He thought maybe a bomb had hit below. He said: ‘I just want you to know Ma that I love you now and I always will. I don’t know what’s ahead.’ He said goodbye and then I realized this was serious.”

The ceremony didn’t bring up as many bad feelings for her as last year, and it made her even more proud of her son when the monument was dedicated in his memory. The families of O’Mahony and Nelson were invited to the event but weren’t informed of the plaques prior to the unveiling.

“I just heard so many wonderful things about him, which I knew -- I’m his mother -- but I was just so proud of him tonight,” she said. “You think you’re never going to get rid of that nervous stomach and the unreal feeling that this didn’t happen, but each year went by and you continue to have a lot of faith and hang in there.”

Kitty Grinnell sat next to O’Mahony Bradley when it was revealed that her brother’s name was also engraved on the same plaque on the monument unveiled at the ceremony.

James A. Nelson, a Port Authority police officer for 16 years, was dispatched to the World Trade Center that day to assist in the rescue efforts. He died that day at age 40.

“As soon as I saw what happened, I knew he’d be there. He was there before the second plane hit,” said Grinnell, 54, of Centereach. “I was touched that they honored both Jimmy and Matt. They grew up on the same street.”

Grinnell said this year this year wasn’t as difficult for her because she felt overwhelming support from the community.

“I’m just so proud to see my brother’s name there, and I can’t wait to show it to my older brother and Jimmy’s wife,” Grinnell said. “I’m so proud of my hometown that they did this.”

Dominick D’Onofrio, chairman of the Centereach Fire District Board of Commissioners, remembers delivering donated coats, shoes, shirts and dog food to Ground Zero two days later.

“It feels like yesterday; however, 11 years have passed,” said D’Onofrio, 50, of Centereach. “I think it’s important that we continue doing this every year, so the public doesn’t forget. It’s a day of remembrance. Never forget.”

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