Throggs Neck remembers 9/11 with annual sunset memorial service

Connor Delatorre singing “God Bless America.” Ceremony emcee Jim McQuade is to the side.
Photo by Alex Belisle

Throggs Neck came together to remember the tragic events of 9/11 with a sunset memorial service.

Taking place as the sun receded and darkness fell on Thursday, September 11, the event began with a performance by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Pipe and Drum Band and concluded with families and friends of the dead placing flowers on a monument to people from Throggs Neck who perished on September 11, 2001.

As it is every year, the event was held at a memorial grove adjacent to the Fire Department’s Engine 72 on East Tremont Avenue.

St. Benedict’s Church pastor Father Stephen Norton, in his invocation, called that tragic day one that will “live in our hearts forever.”

He, like others there, remembered the first responders and honored them, as well as the families of those who died in the terror attacks.

“We remember those brave men and women who served our city day after day, and who unselfishly ran into an unspeakable, unbelievable reality,” said Norton. “We honor them; we thank them; we pray for them; we promise as a nation never to forget them.”

Reaching back into the annuals of the history of the city’s Fire Department, one of the organizers, Firefighter Mike Rahilly, explained to the crowd the significance of the next part of the ceremony. He rang a code on a bell known in the Fire Department, before the days of radio communication when bells were used to communicate, as a code to lower the flag to half staff in the wake of tragedy.

Then James McQuade, a trusted community leader and the proprietor of a Schuylerville Funeral Home, recalled the events of 9/11 and the spirit of shared sacrifice the tragic events invoked.

“This was a time where the Americans were attacked on their homefront,” he said. “We acknowledge what happened at the Twin Towers, and the hurt there was followed up by more: the Pentagon, Shankesville, Pennsylvania.”

McQuade recalled that in the hours after the attack, people did not talk very much, but rather stayed by their televisions and listened.

“We’ve seen New York Police Department, we’ve seen EMS (Emergency Medical Service),” McQuade recalled of that day. “We’ve seen neighbor help neighbor, we’ve seen worker help worker.”

He added: “We will never forget our families, we will never forget our neighbors, and may God hold them in the palm of his hand.”

Attendee Bill Heaney, a volunteer with the Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps., said that the biggest takeaway from the event was that the community isstill coming together to remember that day 13 years later.

“I think with everyone that was involved with downtown and everywhere else – as we get together – the camaraderie is there and the community is there,” he said.

Ted Carstensen, 82, who attended the ceremony said that it was a fitting way to pay tribute to the people who were at the scenes of the attacks: including fire fighters, police officers, and civilians.

“It is a great remembrance and it is nice to have such a big crowd here,” he said, adding that “a lot of friends and neighbors are here to pay tribute.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procc‌hio@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Ryan Laing hands out free flag lapel pins to Ptl. Malafronte and Capt. Smith of the NYPD at the ceremony.
Photo by Alex Belisle

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