It’s hard to believe two decades have passed since the September 11, 2001 attacks took 2,977 lives in the twin towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93, including 344 firefighters (343 of them FDNY), 71 law enforcement officers and 55 military personnel. Everything changed in the United States and around the world in the aftermath, the effects of which are still being felt today.
As a result, this country entered two wars and lost many, many more lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention all the first responders who later became sick and died from breathing the toxic fumes at Ground Zero. Needless to say, with such a close proximity to New York City, the East End community, too, lost sons and daughters, mothers and fathers that day, whether they were current residents, part-time visitors or friends and relatives. None of them are forgotten. Never.
And part of that remembering comes in the form of local memorials and monuments spread out across these towns, villages and hamlets. Some are etched in stone and/or sculpted in metal, while others put on display battered, weighty steel beams recovered from that hallowed ground where so many perished. On this solemn 20th anniversary of 9/11, take some time to visit these sites, admire the care, thought and stalwart effort that went into creating them, and contemplate the magnitude of what happened that day. Consider those we lost and remember. Always remember.
Montauk Fire Department, 12 Flamingo Avenue
Dedicated in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, this monument to honor the fallen firefighters comprises three stone slabs. The central slab features the letters “FDNY,” “September 11, 2001” and a Maltese firefighter’s cross cut into a piece of metal from Ground Zero with the number “343” on the stone revealed behind the cutout. The outer slabs, which represent each of the twin towers, carry bronze plaques listing the names of each firefighter who died that day.
American Legion Post 419, 15 Montauk Highway
Recently dedicated in 2019, this strikingly powerful monument displays a large, twisted support beam salvaged from Ground Zero at its center. Designer Gustavo Bonevardi — who also worked on NYC’s “Tribute in Light” memorial that replaced the twin towers with beams of light after they fell — extended the 14-foot beam from a concrete base and surrounded it with stone slabs noting significant moments from the day, including times and flight numbers of the planes that went down. Bricks on the path carry names of project supporters who helped get the monument made.
1357 Brick Kiln Road
Applied for by In Jordan’s Honor, Ltd. — the foundation created in the name of late Sag Harbor U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, who sacrificed his life to directly save many in Iraq — they were awarded the 9/11 artifact steel now standing in a small garden outside the Sag Harbor Fire Department. New plantings and replacement solar lights were recently added to the site. In Jordan’s Honor, Ltd. would like to offer additional help, with Sag Harbor Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary’s blessing, to improve the site. “I would like to support their efforts by adding spot lighting and something, a plaque, that makes it more recognizable as Sag Harbor’s September 11 memorial,” Haerter’s mother JoAnn Lyles said this week. Lyles and her foundation were instrumental in getting the steel to Sag Harbor. Anyone interested in helping her efforts should visit injordanshonor.org.
Bridgehampton Fire Department, 64 School Street
Created as a place to reflect, this memorial arranges pieces of steel from Ground Zero with a stone bench, a trio of flags and a large, rough-cut stone with a plaque dedicated to the firefighters, EMS personnel, police and “the memory of all who perished in the towers, Pentagon and aboard United Flight 93.” The American flag, fire department flag and EMS flag fly proudly above.
Southampton Fire Department, Hampton Road and Narrow Lane
Another area monument displaying a piece of steel recovered from Ground Zero, the Southampton Fire Department 9/11 memorial was designed by local volunteer firefighter Jason Poremba. Set behind beautiful floral plantings, the monument is steeped in symbolism, including a red box representing “solidarity [and] brotherhood of the fire service” with the Southampton Fire Department logo, white dots and bricks equaling the number of lives lost. A gray metal piece extends outward to display the number 343 and the words “never forget.” The artifact steel beam emerges from a pool of water and functions as a sort of fountain, with the water and a mirror representing tears and reflection, according to the SFD description. The bricks also carry the words “Southampton Fire Department” and a plaque honoring the dead.
Firemen’s Memorial Park, 1459 Flanders Road
Built from two pieces of Ground Zero steel brought to the East End and installed in time to be dedicated on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in 2011, this monument stands as a direct representation of the twin towers as they stood before terrorists knocked them down. A brass plaque set in stone beneath the beams says the memorial is in memory of the people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, noting, “We will always remember” with the year it was constructed, 2011.
9/11 Memorial Park, Sound Avenue and Park Road
Conceived as a place for quiet contemplation, this 4.1-acre site was the longtime dream of Bob Kelly, brother of Thomas Kelly, a 38-year-old Riverhead local from Reeves Park who died along with six other members of FDNY Engine 219, Ladder 105 doing his job on 9/11. The park and memorial garden has stately benches and brick paths, with light bricks among the red spelling out the date 9•11•01. A large stone carries a brass plaque honoring the day.
Corner of Edwards Avenue and Riley Avenue
Designed by local resident Hal Lindstrom, this memorial site features two circles of brick, concrete and stone, each representing one of the fallen twin towers, as well as a large chunk of granite with a plaque dedicated to the dead. A piece of recovered steel is also at the well-manicured site, along with photographs of people lost in the attacks.
Jean Cochran Park, Peconic Lane, Peconic
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring of the East End 9/11 monuments, Southold Fire Department’s Firefighters Memorial is a towering structure built with steel beams from the World Trade Center’s 33rd floor. A stunning wire osprey sculpture, “Morning Call” by artist Roberto Julio Bessin, which was first located in Greenport, stands atop the beams, its wings outstretched in a glorious, hopeful pose. The site includes a sitting wall listing local fire departments and a plaque with the names of fallen firefighters. It’s a sight to behold.
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