By Carl Corry, Chris Mellides and Janee Law
Somber memorials are being held around Huntington today on the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
At a noon ceremony at Heckscher Park’s 9/11 Memorial in Huntington, the names of the 43 Huntington residents who died in the attacks were read, as flowers were placed in front of the memorial walkway and a bell rang in their honor. The ceremony ended with a moment of silence and a tune from a single bagpipe player. Lastly, family members of 9/11 victims picked up roses, walked down the pass and placed the flowers on rock in front of the waterfall to pay their respects.
Twelve friends and family members of James Brian Reilly, a 25-year-old bond trader for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods who died in the south tower, attended the ceremony. The clan left a bouquet of flowers on the rocks in front of the waterfall, with a note that read, “We love you Jimmy!”
Reilly was a son, grandson, a godfather, a brother and fiancé to Jen Bresler, now 39, at the time. His memory lives on through his family and friends.
Older sister Jeanne Reilly Kennedy, 47, said Reilly referred to himself as the king of the world.
“He had a great sense of humor. He made everyone feel special and important,” said older brother Bill Reilly, 53. Bill’s twin sister, Christine, remembers James as compassionate and fun-loving. “He lived life to the fullest, those 25 years were full of action,” she said. “He was very special.”
At the Huntington Manor Firehouse in Huntington Station, the department rang bells to honor those who served their country and gave their lives while on duty.
Today was also a time to remember the former firehouse assistant chief Peter Nelson, who was among the first responders that lost their lives during the World Trade Center attacks.
“Peter was one of the numerous first responders from the fire department that went to the World Trade Center and unfortunately never returned,” said Frank McQuade, chief of the Huntington Manor fire department.
The brass bell located just beside a large memorial slate at the firehouse rang loudly with each strike, with a booming sound that pierced the cold chill Friday morning.
Families of the fallen sat in silent contemplation as they remembered their lost loved ones and joined one another in solidarity.
McQuade says that while some people may have forgotten the sacrifices of the 9/11 first responders, it doesn’t make what they did on that day any less significant.
“People seemed to forget pretty quickly at what happened. This was a terrorist attack on our country and I was there,” he said. “I was a first responder and I understand how everybody feels. It’s still tough. It really is.”
At the East Northport Fire Department, at least 50 residents turned out for a morning memorial service, which included prayers, a moment of silence, a 21-gun salute, songs by the Northport High School Tights, a playing of “Taps” and a reading of names of everyone who died in the terrorist attacks. Members of the Northport, Huntington and Centerport fire departments, as well as the FDNY, were also present.
East Northport Capt. Tom Bourne, a retired NYPD detective in the Emergency Services Unit, which lost 14 people in the attacks, choked back tears when talking about the attacks and their ongoing impact.
“It’s a hard day for a lot of us,” he said. “Some people don’t want to deal with it at all. Some people grieve it. Some people get through it.”
Bourne, who spent six months at Ground Zero to help with recovery efforts, said he mostly tries to put the events in the back of his mind.
“Today is the toughest day.”
Lt. Brian Hinton, 25, chairman of East Northport’s 9/11 committee, was in his sixth-grade math class when the attacks occurred.
He said today’s turnout at the memorial service was better than in recent years, which he said shows that the community is committed to honoring the memories of those who died on Sept. 11.
Said Hinton: “It’s powerful and encouraging that the American people have vowed not to forget and are not forgetting.”
Follow our coverage here and on Twitter using #Sept11inHuntington.
Commack High School Candlelight Ceremony
Commack High School, at 1 Scholar Lane in Commack, will host a candlelight ceremony at 6 p.m. on the school’s Heroes Memorial track. The community is welcome to attend.
East Northport Fire Department Service and Candlelight Ceremony
The fire department will hold a service at 9 a.m. at 1 9th Ave. East Northport. The service will include a reading of names of those who perished and a 21-Gun Salute from the Marine Corps League. Sirens will be sounded at the times of the towers collapse. The department will also host an evening candlelight Ceremony at 8 p.m. near the 9/11 memorial monument. For information, call 631-261-0360.
Halesite Fire Department Memorial Dedication
A new 9/11 memorial constructed as part of Halesite firefighter Peter C. Magerle’s Eagle Scout project will be dedicated during a short service and reception at 6:30 p.m. at 1 North New York Ave. Huntington. For information, call 631-427-1910.
Heckscher Park Ceremony
A reading of names of the 43 Huntington residents who perished in the attacks will be held at 12 p.m. at the 9/11 memorial in the park, at 164 Main St. in Huntington.
Huntington Manor Fire Department Ceremony
The fire department, at 1650 New York Ave. in Huntington Station, will host a ceremony at 8:30 a.m. and a candlelight vigil at 7:30 p.m. The department lost former chief Peter Nelson, who died while helping rescue countless civilians at the World Trade Center. For more information, call 631-427-1629.