While the crowd of families and firefighters gathered at Point Lookout Sunday morning to observe the Town of Hempstead’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony, several children sculpted their own makeshift tributes for the loved ones they lost — or perhaps, never got to know.
The nieces and nephew of fallen New York City firefighter, Joseph Hunter, 31, of South Hempstead, captured the emotions of the day without saying a word. Ten years after their uncle perished in the attacks, they sat at the foot of their family members, arranging seashells, flowers and American flags around a photo of their hero perched in the sand.
“In the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, neighbors returned to the waters of the Atlantic at Point Lookout, the location where they had celebrated the countless joys of life, to seek solace and to look westward at the once majestic towers in deep reflection,” Town Supervisor Kate Murray said.
Many flags flew, while others stood in the sand, hung from fire engine tower ladders and were clutched by the men, women and children that lined the shore.
As a flock of white doves was released into the sky, the attention turned to the two tall chrome replicas of the Twin Towers standing nearby. A few feet away, resting underneath a small footbridge and over a second reflecting pool, was a 30-foot twisted steel beam that had been pulled from the Ground Zero wreckage.
By the end of the ceremony, these waters were filled with red and white carnations, and surrounded by small flags, each one placed by a grieving loved one and representing a life that was lost on 9/11.
Among them was Charles Lucania of East Athlantic Beach, a worker at the World Trade Center, whose sister, Joann Santella of Manhasset, shared her memories of her brother with the group.
"My relationship with my brother is still very much alive," Santella said. "Yes, it has changed, but it is still deep and powerful."
Dawn Carbone, of Seaford, also spoke heartfelt words to attendees about her fallen brothers, firefighters Thomas Haskell, of Massapequa Park, and Timothy, of Seaford.
“I didn’t want to get to a 10-year anniversary or, even a one-year anniversary,” she said. “I think my biggest fear was...that the rest of the world would go on with their lives intact and ours would always stay in shambles. But I was so wrong."
She left the audience with one final request, to read the individual stories of every victim, saying, “You know how they died. Now, go learn how they lived.”