Written by Lauren del Valle, firstname.lastname@example.org Wednesday, 18 September 2013 12:23
The Garden City Fire Department (GCFD) brought its village together Wednesday to commemorate the 12th anniversary of September 11 at the 9/11 Village Memorial.
The remembrance service was dedicated especially to the lives of the 23 Garden City residents that were lost as a result of the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem, Father Anthony Cardone opened the ceremony with a prayer asking for God’s love and mercy to be placed on all those affected by Sept. 11, 2001.
1st Asst. Chief Joseph Nadolny read aloud the 23 names of the fallen. Each soul was honored by a single toll of the bell, a lit candle and the salute of a GCFD member. A 24th toll rang and candle was lit to remember all the first responders to the scene that day.
Among the fallen were firefighters Robert Ferris, 63, and Durrell Pearsall, 38. Vinny Cashman, the senior most member of the department, knew both men as active members of the village community.
“I’ve lived here my whole life. Pearsall grew up in the neighborhood. Everyone knew him,” said Cashman.
The firefighter solemnly recalled his role as a pallbearer at the funeral of Robert Ferris. The two served in the GCFD together.
As a member of the Nassau County Fire Commission in 2001, Cashman described the ground zero site in one word, “devastating.”
“I think we wake up and remember 9/11. There is no solace except unity and support,” said Mayor John Watras.
Watras found the solemn crowd present at the memorial to illustrate such unity.
Approximately 100 village residents attended the memorial and for many, the emotional memories of the historic event remain ingrained despite being more than a decade removed from it.
“I thought they were redoing The War of the Worlds,” said Garden City resident Carolyn Gearns.
“There are no words,” said Gearns tearfully recalling friends lost to the violence.
Chief Bill Castero recalled the overwhelming feelings of being called to action as a New York City police officer that day 12 years ago.
“That day was surreal. I don’t remember most of it,” said Castero.
The GCFD partook in scouring the rubble the Saturday after the initial event. Ten members of the department brought the department rescue truck onto the scene, according to Castero.
Each year to come, the Village of Garden City will reconvene in remembrance of those who died so tragically that day. The town erected the 9/11 Village Memorial in time for the first anniversary service 11 years ago. It is located on the village green at the corner of Hilton and Stewart Avenue.