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Saddle Rock residents gather at 9/11 bridge

Firefighters carry a bell used in the 9/11

Firefighters carry a bell used in the 9/11 ceremony on the 9/11 Memorial Bridge on Bayview Avenue in Saddle Rock. (Sept. 11, 2011) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

The bridge in this village has become a living memorial to those lost in the Sept. 11 attacks.

In the days after the attack, residents and loved ones flocked to the bridge, the only public place in Saddle Rock to look across the water to Lower Manhattan and Ground Zero. Notes scrawled in English, Hebrew and Farsi -- speaking of faith and resilience -- covered the bridge.

Some residents wanted it painted over, but Saddle Rock's mayor at the time, J. Leonard Samansky, saw it differently, said his son Adam. "It wasn't graffiti defacing a bridge; it was an outpouring of support," Adam Samansky, an attorney in Boston, said.

The elder Samansky, who died in July after 22 years in office, even brought in a professional photographer to chronicle all of the items and messages left behind.

On that day 10 years ago, Great Neck Plaza resident Laurie Avelar stood on the bridge staring into Manhattan. Chris Campbell was there, too. So was Raymond Plakstis.

"It was glowing," said Avelar, 61.

"You saw the towers burning," said Campbell, 49, of Great Neck. "People had come out here before the second one hit. They were just in awe."

Plakstis, a first assistant chief with the Great Neck Alert Fire Department, planned yesterday's memorial service on the bridge. It attracted more than 300 people.


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