Over a hundred seniors from surrounding neighborhoods gatheredat the AMICO Senior Center in Borough Park last Thursday tocommemorate those lost on September 11.
Councilmembers David Greenfield and Vincent Gentile,Assemblymember Peter Abbate, Nan Blacksheer from the BoroughPresident’s office, City Comptroller John Liu and first respondersshared personal stories of where they were on that fatefulmorning.
AMICO members also shared their talents to memorialize thefallen. Harold Raynor performed the classic song, I Believe;Sandy Honor recited a poem; and Joseph Tsang sang You’ll NeverWalk Alone and also read the names of those who perished who werefamily and friends of the Center, accompanied by Rita Biamonte onpiano.
Today we come together to honor all those who sacrificed, saidDr. Joan Pastore, director of AMICO. They were ordinary citizenswho performed extraordinary tasks that day. We come together tohonor the spirit of Americans on that day and forward.
Lieutenant Jack Halaby, a member of the Fire Department for thepast 18 years, was working at Engine 226 in Downtown Brooklyn thatmorning. We were called right away to respond, he said, addingthat they lost four out of five men from his company that day.
Halaby said that, each day after he finished his shift, heeither went to The Pit, visited families of those who had died orvisited other firehouses.
I was trying to make their lives a little easier. When yousuffer losses like we did, you need people to help you out, hesaid. All day long, regular people came to the firehouse. Theseneighbors made it bearable. I don’t tell you this to make you sad,but it allowed us to keep on doing what we do.
Sergeant Anthony Caggiano had only been working out of the 81stprecinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant for a month on September 11. He wasvery unfamiliar with his team.
My mother called and told me about the attacks, he recalled.But myself and the eight other men I was with were called torespond to Pike Street and South Street.
When they got there, they found themselves in an empty Pathmarkparking lot. They looked up and watched the south tower fall.
If we were told to go the World Trade Center, I would not bestanding here today, Caggiano said, adding that they raced to thesite soon after, just in time to see the north tower fall. We rananywhere we could. Then it occurred to me that I had no idea wheremy eight men were and if I saw them, I would have no idea how torecognize them.
Luckily, all of the men survived unscathed. We just had to dowhat we had to do that day, he said. My heart goes out to anyonewho lost anybody that day – because it could have been us.
The recollections of a Staten Island ferry captain were alsoshared, thanks to Maureen Parese, whose husband, ferry CaptainJames Parese, watched the planes hit from the water. Although hewas not able to make the event, a recording of his recollection ofevents was played.
After seeing the planes hit the towers, Parese turned his vesselaround. After dropping his passengers, he and his crew went back toManhattan and served as a rescue ship.
People had no shoes and were jumping out of buildings to get onthe ferry, he recalled. About 6,000 people fit on the boat and Itook them safely to Staten Island. We thought Manhattan Island wasbeing bombed.
Since subways and bridges were closed, the water was the onlyway off the island for most. I saw a sea of tugboats going toStaten Island from Manhattan, he said. These times bring out thebest in everybody.