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Yonkers 9/11 victims honored with plaque at pier

During the dedication of a new 9/11 memorial

During the dedication of a new 9/11 memorial on the Yonkers waterfront, elected officials toss red roses into the Hudson River in honor of the 24 people from Yonkers who died in the attacks. (Sept. 9, 2012)

It was on a September day 11 years ago, much like Sunday, that Patricia Caloia, surrounded by her family and friends, waited for the phone to ring.

Her brother Denis Lavelle worked on the 94th floor of the north tower at the World Trade Center as an accountant for Marsh & McLennan. He was working Sept. 11, 2001, when hijacked planes smashed into the twin towers.

Lavelle never called. He never came home. He was just 42.

Caloia and her family will never forget Lavelle. Now, the City of Yonkers has ensured that no one else will, either, etching Lavelle's and 23 other names in a plaque unveiled at the Yonkers Pier on Water Grant Street on Sunday. The plaque honors victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"Everybody loved him," said Caloia, 65, of Yonkers on Sunday. "He had such a great personality. They say that God takes the good ones. He was a good one. I'm glad that he's being remembered and honored."

About 30 people -- including victims' families, veterans, elected officials and service members -- paid homage Sunday to the 24 people who hailed from Yonkers and the nearly 3,000 who died in the attacks.

On Tuesday, a monument made from a 38-foot, 4,000-ton steel beam from the World Trade Center will be dedicated at 7:30 p.m. at Conor Park.

"Today, we stand here as a reminder that we, Yonkers, will never forget the lives lost that day," said Mayor Mike Spano under blue skies Sunday. "The mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles and friends who have left a permanent hole in our hearts.

"Sept. 11 will never get easier for our families and friends, but today, as we remember them, let us also remember how blessed we were for having known them; how they have touched our lives, and how our lives are better today because of them."

Yonkers City Council members read each of the 24 names aloud, as well as the names of five service members from Yonkers killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Richard Halévy was working on his computer just before 9 a.m. Sept. 11 when he received a frantic call to turn on the TV. A plane had just crashed into the north tower. At first, it seemed like an accident. Then, 17 minutes later, the second plane hit the south tower. His mind immediately raced to the Pentagon, where his sister, Marion, worked as the congressional affairs officer for the Army's deputy chief of staff of personnel.

He couldn't reach her. And although Marion's car was still parked in the Pentagon's parking garage, it took 25 days to confirm her death.

The Halévy family has lived in Yonkers for three generations..

"I'm especially proud the family name is on that plaque -- although I wish it wasn't," Halévy said.

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