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Commack district 9/11 memorial ‘miracle’

The Commack school district community unveiled a new

The Commack school district community unveiled a new Sept. 11 memorial Tuesday with a recovered steel beam, commemorative brick paving and a granite wall engraved with names of victims with ties to the community, after a dedication ceremony. (Sept. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

When Debbie Virga planned the Commack School District's 9/11 memorial, she knew it could withstand anything.

The piece of steel from the World Trade Center is set in a block of granite surrounded by brick pavers.

“It’s made out of granite,” she said. “It’s not going anywhere.”

But still, it wasn’t completely unburdened by superstorm Sandy. The storm’s fierce winds picked up a nearby soccer goal and dumped it at the site of the memorial  outside Commack High School.

Virga, community relations consultant at the high school, said the goalpost fell on and destroyed a marble bench, and an American flag that flew over the memorial was tattered and torn, but the rest of the site was unscathed.

To Commack resident Roberta Teer, that was a miracle.

One of the brick pavers surrounding the memorial was dedicated to her son, Seth Baumgartner, who died in 2003 at the age of 18.

As soon as the storm had passed, Teer, 53, checked on two sites in her town: the cemetery where her son is buried, and the memorial, where she goes to remember him. Both were safe.

“I had gone there particularly to see if my son’s stone was saved,” she said. “It was all safe. It was pretty amazing that with this huge steel post, the goal missed it.”

At Commack Cemetery, too, trees crashed inches from her son’s headstone but did not hit it.

“I’m sure there are much bigger things that were destroyed by the storm that are more important,” she said. “But these are more the miraculous things.”

Virga said a new flag and bench have already been ordered for the popular memorial that was unveiled in September. Teer said since the unveiling, she’s visited the memorial at least six times and she’s thankful she can continue to go there.

“It feels right to go and sit there,” she said. “Everytime you go there there are people there, it’s never empty.”

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Pictured: The Commack School District's 9/11 memorial, with a recovered steel beam from the World Trade Center,, commemorative brick paving and a granite wall engraved with names of victims with ties to the community, was dedicated in September, 2012.

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