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Manorville memorial honors John Scharf

Eastport South Manor residents gather around the 9/11

Eastport South Manor residents gather around the 9/11 memorial installed at the high school. (Sept. 11, 2011) Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

There were five children in the Scharf family until Sept. 11, 2001.

On that day, the Manorville family lost John, 29, an electrical engineer working in the South Tower.

It was the second time he'd ever been to the World Trade Center. The job he was doing had been scheduled for Sept. 10, but he was missing a part and so returned to finish the job the next day.

At Eastport-South Manor Junior Senior High School, hundreds came to see the unveiling of a 9/11 memorial and to hear John Scharf's story, as read from a speech prepared by the Scharf family, which was attending the memorial in New York City and couldn't be at the school.

Chris Marzuk, district assistant superintendent, said the memorial is a singular steel beam from the World Trade Center. On a clear day, like today and this day 10 years ago, the sun reflects the beam’s shadow on the wall behind it, creating an image of twin towers.

"This is a memorial for the community, not just this school," Marzuk said to applause from the crowd.

As was the memorial event on Sunday afternoon. The school band and choir were on prominent display and asked to perform after almost every speaker; the East Moriches, Eastport and South Manor fire departments were on hand and waving flags from their fire ladders; and Marzuk began the ceremony by thanking the dozen or so students that helped to organize the event and ended it with a shoutout to the school’s football team, which was standing at the back of the crowd in uniform.

“We’re a growing community,” said Lisa Vanessendelft, of Mastic, referring to the fact that the high school opened in 2003, when the Eastport and South Manor districts combined.

Vanessendelft’s said she enjoyed seeing her son David perform in the choir and she appreciated that the school administration got so many people involved in the ceremony.

“It’s nice to see how well we’ve melded, and how much of the community was involved today.”

Speakers at the ceremony included high school administration; Jill Kelley, a Red Cross volunteer who responded to the World Trade Center after the attacks and a graduate of the school district; U.S. Representative Tim Bishop; Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico; Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine; and New York State Senator Ken LaValle.

Romaine congratulated the school district and the community for taking the steps necessary to acquire a piece of steel from one of the towers and erecting a memorial. He said the memorial will serve two purposes as time lapses.

“We will remember all that perished,” he said. “And we will comfort all that grieve.”

As the ceremony ended, people flocked to the memorial to take pictures and admire it.

Nicolette Krumholz, of Mastic, had tears in her eyes.

“It’s amazing in its simplicity,” she said. “It just captures it all.”

Krumholz, whose 15-year-old daughter Maria is a junior firefighter, said she was proud to be a member of the Eastport-South Manor community that day.

“This is really the first monumental thing we’ve done as a unit,” she said. “It’s just a great representation of what our country is all about.”

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