Retired FDNY firefighter Bob Beckwith, who stood with President George W. Bush on a crushed fire truck and pile of debris at Ground Zero in 2001, went to Point Lookout Sunday rather than to the site of that iconic image.
Beckwith, a Baldwin resident, said he chose the Long Island ceremony over Lower Manhattan because no first responders were invited to the Ground Zero memorial. President Barack Obama invited him to the Manhattan ceremony, Beckwith said, but he declined because he did not lose any family members.
"I know a lot of people that came here , that's why I came," Beckwith, 79, said as he toured the Town of Hempstead memorial with his wife, Barbara. Tears ran down his cheeks as he held a white carnation in one hand and used the other to shake hands with the many people walking up to him.
"I don't like the word 'closure.' We will never get closure," he said. "I want everybody to never forget, and to pray for the survivors."
Beckwith said he ended up in the photograph with Bush by chance -- he was at the site working with other first responders and just happened to be near the president.
He was to meet later Sunday with Bush, Beckwith said, declining to provide details.
Location honors him best
The Hempstead Town 9/11 memorial couldn't have been located at a better place for the family of William V. Steckman.
Just after sunrise, Donna Steckman and her family went out to the anniversary ceremony at the memorial in Point Lookout to remember and celebrate the life of her father. William Steckman, 56, of West Hempstead, was a transmitter engineer for NBC for 35 years. He was working on the 104th floor at One World Trade Center 10 years ago.
"Growing up we used to go to this beach with him, so we have a connection to this place," said Donna Steckman, 44, of Massapequa, who held back tears as she remembered her father. She and her sisters, Deanine Nagengast, 41, of Seaford and Diana DeVito, 34, of Merrick, joined more than 3,000 people at the memorial.
They placed small American flags bearing their father's name in the sand at the base of a chrome replica of the Twin Towers.
"Even after 10 years, it's still very hard for us," DeVito said as she began to cry. "We are a close family and we try to honor him as much as we can."