Two Plainview firefighters in full dress uniform waited quietly outside the Mid Island Y Jewish Community Center this morning to join more than 250 people in remembering those who died, survived and rescued on Sept. 11, 2001.
Gerard Petti, 55, and Bill Mlotok, 55, were at Ground Zero just days after the terrorist attacks digging for potential survivors.
“It’s bittersweet for us to be here because we were trying to save lives but we know that so many people died,” Mlotok said as he opened a 10-year-old picture on his Blackberry of his six-man crew in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
The Mid Island Y JCC held a memorial service for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 that included a performance by a children’s choir, prayers and survivor stories.
“This is the first time we’ve held something of this magnitude for 9/11,” said Alyssa Friedman, director of family and adult services at Mid Island Y JCC. “September 11 affected all of us and we wanted to be able to come together as a community.”
Keynote speaker Benjamin Luft, M.D., is a professor at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine and director of the school's World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Center, which aids first responders of 9/11 free of charge.
“I thank the first responders not only for their heroics, but also for their ability to give us guideposts for what all of us should do as Americans,” Luft, 59, said.
One of the survivors who spoke at the ceremony was Alan Fromm, 56, of Plainview, who was arriving at his office on 9/11 at World Trade Center building No. 5 when he saw the North Tower burning after the first strike.
Fromm, who was trained as a fire safety officer for his company at the time, described evacuating people from building No. 5 as he watch people fight for their lives.
Said Fromm, who also survived the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, West Nile virus and being struck by lightning, said, “We should unwrap each day as the special gift that has been given to us.”
Above: Rabbi Shmuel Lipszyc blows a shofar during the Mid Island Y JCC community commemoration in remembrance of Plainview residents who died on 9/11.