The hundreds of people who showed up at the 9/11 vigil in Shoreham Sunday night seemed not to notice, or at least not to mind, that the memorial was not finished. Nor did the carloads that trickled in and out during the day.
It was already a community gathering place -- the end goal of its designers since the process to get a steel beam from the World Trade Center began a year ago.
“It’s very special,” said Capt. Joe Titone of the Rocky Point Fire Department, which spearheaded the effort. “I’m proud and honored to have had this kind of community support.”
Titone said the 9/11 memorial committee is still trying to raise the last $10,000 to $15,000 needed to complete the memorial park, at the corner of Tesla Street and Route 25A in Shoreham. Community members can check the progress of the memorial or make a donation at shoreham911memorial.org.
Titone said he was happy to have finished enough of the memorial park to hold Sunday night’s candlelight vigil, but the main feature of the memorial -- a cement wall that “embraces” the steel beam sitting in a pool of water -- is far from done.
When it is finished, the wall will be clad in granite and steel plates and the names of all of the victims of the September 11 attacks will be cut out so that light will shine through.
Titone said he was proud of the community for all they had already donated during hard economic times. People purchased dedication bricks that were placed in the walkway of the memorial and made other financial or material donations. Individuals also lent a helping hand.
“People have walked by here and asked what we were doing and picked up a shovel to help,” he said.
As much as the memorial is about community, it also feels personal, said Mike Williams of Shoreham, whose son Kevin was killed in the attacks. Kevin Williams, who was 24 at the time, worked as a bond salesmen on the 104th floor of the North Tower.
Kevin Williams grew up about a quarter-mile away from the site of the memorial park, his father said. When he was younger, he rode his bike past that corner on his way to the pizza shop. Later, he would drive his black Pathfinder past the same spot on his way to school. Then, on his way to the Orient Point ferry while he attended Boston College.
“Also, on his way to his fiancée’s house, who lived in Wading River,” Mike Williams said. They were engaged to be married in December 2001.
“But I can see from the hundreds of people that are here tonight,” he said at the vigil. “This is not just personal for my family.”
Diane Carlson, who lives in Leisure Glen, a retirement community in Shoreham, arrived at the vigil late because she was at another ceremony held at Leisure Glen. But she wanted to see the community memorial in Shoreham because she had purchased a dedication brick for her daughter Allyson.
Her daughter was a student in Manhattan in September 2001. She made it home safely.
The brick Carlson purchased reads: “Thank God Allyson made it home that day.”