September 11 is a time of reflection, of remembering lives cut tragically short on a day that left a heartbroken nation forever changed. But despite the overwhelming loss and despair, the 11 years since have been colored with the courage of survivors who have found the inner strength to persevere. Despite a loss of innocence, 9/11 has given birth to a sea of patriotism and an outpouring of volunteerism that shows the best of what America can be.
On this 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, Westhampton-Hampton Bays Patch would like to take a moment and share some of the local stories that have touched our lives.
When Westhampton Beach resident Lisa Jordan heard the phone ringing just after midnight one Sunday in May, her first thought was that something had happened to her oldest son, Andrew, studying history at Iona College.
“I was scared,” she said.
But, her son was calling to tell her that history was unfolding — Osama bin Laden, the terrorist who masterminded the Sept. 11 tragedy that left her a widow and her four children fatherless, was dead.
The and the Westhampton Clergy Council each held a memorial service to remember those community members who lost their lives on Sept. 11 during a tenth anniversary ceremony. During their respective ceremonies, the names of those from the community who died on 9/11 were read. To watch a video of the Hampton Bays American Legion Post full ceremony, click here. And to watch a video from the Westhampton Beach ceremony, click here.
Peter Dancona was only a few feet from the South Tower of the World Trade Center when it started to fall on 9/11 and he ducked into a nearby deli to escape the falling debris. It saved his life, but, he says his guilt has destroyed his family.
Like so many Americans, Jennifer Kessenich remembers the exact moment she learned the Twin Towers fell. She had just dropped her youngest daughter off for her first day of pre-school and was chatting with fellow moms in the parking lot of the Westhampton Beach Nursery School.
Kessenich had numerous family and friends who worked downtown and said she immediately scrambled to find out where they were. And she sank to her knees learning that her daughter’s Godfather, who is her husband’s cousin and worked at Cantor, was killed. As the day wore on, she learned that more friends had died.
Last September, 1,400 Hampton Bays students marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with a powerful image by shuffling out on the Middle School field, wearing red, white, blue and purple shirts to form a giant 9/11 that could been sceen from above. To watch a video clip of the ceremony, .
Michael Araujo made it as far as Patchogue on his commute into Manhattan the morning of 9/11 before he heard news of the attack on the radio and knew he wouldn’t be able to get to his office at 6th Avenue and Canal Street in lower Manhattan.
Araujo, who was working in construction, wanted to help clean up the crumbled towers, but didn’t know how to get involved. About one month later, he joined the . Even after joining, crews already on scene forbid him to participate, but he felt empowered to at least be able to offer in an official capacity.
A firefighter with 28 years of technical rescue training, Allen Schneider of the was prepared to do his job on September 11 when his unit was placed on standby. Hours passed and Schneider and his fellow volunteer firefighters waited anxiously — they wanted to help; they wanted to do what they were trained to do — provide rescue services in a building collapse situation.
Then, on September 12, they got the call. Along with a few other Long Island technical rescue teams, Schneider’s unit was dispatched to Ground Zero.
Throughout the day, Schneider said he watched as rescue workers sifted through the rubble. The hardest part, he said, was not only sitting idle, adrenalin pumping, waiting to be called into the pile, but watching through the dust-filled air the faces of New York City Firefighters.
“We always looked up to these guys,” said Schneider. “They are our heroes, larger than life, nothing scares them. But to see their broken faces and sadness in their eyes, just makes you sick.”
Lance Corey is on a mission. The East Quogue artist has been steadily producing artwork inspired by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks since shortly after the towers tumbled.
His art is abstract but the hard-hitting titles provide access. Titles like "What About the Children?" "The Condemned" and "Outlining the Crusader" hint at the anguish Corey feels about a future where violence is enacted on behalf of radical Islam.
“It’s a crusade,” he said. “I’m on a crusade to help better improve life, not destroy it. I express what I feel through my art.”
September 11, 2001, Jordan, who was still in hiswomb, lost his father, who was a New York City Firefighter.
Nine years later, Jordan stood before the Westhampton Beach School Board to request that the school district hold regular moments of silence for those who died on September 11, 2001 and during the attacks on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Without disclosing that his father died a hero on September 11, Jordan, said, “So many people don’t remember these important days. It wasn’t so long ago that they happened.”