As the sun set on the Bronx Saturday, September 11, the Throggs Neck community remembered that fateful day nine years earlier.
For the fifth time, residents honored all of the borough’s fallen at the Throggs Neck 9/11 Memorial. The ceremony has been held every year since 2001, but the 9/11 Memorial was dedicated in 2006. Since then, a remembrance has been held in front of the memorial, at East Tremont Avenue and the Cross Bronx Expressway service road.
Hundreds of people gathered as an empty table was set for those that perished in the worst terrorist attacks in American history. A bell rung out as World War II veterans read the 156 names of people from the borough who lost their lives in the attacks.
“This neighborhood never ceases to amaze me,” organizer Mike Rahilly said. “When I moved here from Long Island, I thought I was moving to the city. Instead, I moved to a small town called Throggs Neck.”
Participating in the ceremony was a color guard from the Star of the Sea Cadets, FDNY Engine 72, Edgewater Park Volunteer Fire Department, Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps., and the New York City Transit Pipe and Drum Band. A chorus from SUNY Maritime performed songs including “American Tears,” written by Maritime students after the attacks.
Every time the name of a fallen Bronxite was read, a bell was rung once in their honor.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Rahilly, an FDNY firefighter, spoke of how the fire department had a special code, “5-5-5,” as a call to lower the flag to half mast. The code was then rung out on the bell.
A family member of one of the victims read aloud a newspaper editorial, and another read the poem “One,” written by Cheryl Sawyer, which speaks about how the attacks united Americans under one color, class, gender, faith, language, body, family, soul, and people.
While no one was granted an open microphone, participants said they hoped that young people, especially, would take something away from the ceremony.
“We play a part by providing the color guard every year,” said William Heaney, an adult leader of the Sea Cadets. “I am hoping that the people take away a sense of remembrance of 9/11. While many of the young people in the Sea Cadets may not be from Throggs Neck, they can see that all of the Bronx is remembering.”
At the end of the ceremony, Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, and Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns placed a wreath inside the memorial specially dedicated to the lives of 15 Throggs Neck residents who perished in the attacks.
Family members were each invited to place a red flower on the stone marking victims’ names, followed by other general attendees, and closing on a symbolic note of unity.
“I come out here every year, for personal reasons and to represent the Throggs Neck Home Owner Association,” said Rocco Talarico, TNHOA vice president. “I think that this event really brings the community together so that the events of September 11th will never be forgotten. The event gets bigger and bigger every year.”