Honoring The Fallen

Western Queens Gazette - September 23, 2016

by JASON D. ANTOS

The fifth annual Remember Me Run and 14th Annual Memorial Service was held at St. Michael’s Cemetery in East Elmhurst in memory of the 15th anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, 2001. More than two dozen participants ran a two-mile lap around the cemetery grounds on September 17 in a unique tribute to those who lost their lives on that fateful day at the World Trade Center and in the years that followed from working at the site, which became known as “The Pile,” from an array of illnesses.

A new monument to those who have died in the decade and a half since 9/11 was also unveiled. The monument wall, adorned in pink marble, is situated just outside the Memorial Chapel near the administration building. Listed on the wall are the names of members of NYPD, FDNY, volunteers and those from other agencies, including the Secret Service and FBI that died from various illnesses including respiratory illness and cancers.

Councilman Costa Constantinides and the Master of Ceremonies, Queens Gazette Publisher Tony Barsamian, were on hand for the event, as were Al and Maureen Santora, parents of Christopher Santora, the youngest FDNY member to be killed on 9/11, as well as NYPD Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Queens North Assistant Chief Diana L. Pizzuti, Ret. Police Officer Timmy Motto, St. Michael’s Cemetery Director of Community Relations Ed Horn and St. Michael’s Cemetery General Manager Dennis Werner.

“The Remember Me Run and St. Michael’s Cemetery is committed to honoring those who serve and those who lost their lives,” said Horn.

Participants of the run and guests enjoyed Mister Softee ice cream and refreshments.

The run was split between male and female. For the men, Brad Usher came in 1st with a time of 12:34, Jerell Olivares came in 2nd and William McGarvey came in 3rd. For the women, Melissa Lee came in 1st with a time of 13:22, Viridiana Diaz came in 2nd and Calla McGarvey came in 3rd.

The run was followed by the dedication of the new memorial. During the reception, the faces of fallen FDNY and NYPD officers were displayed on a screen, while Daniel Siford performed the National Anthem and “Halfway To Heaven.” Hank Fellows wrote the music and lyrics.

Religious leaders Rabbi Jonathan Pearl from the Astoria Center of Israel, Father Brady of St. Joan of Arc and Father Anastasios Pourakis of St. Demetrios Cathedral were also in attendance and delivered messages of hope and faith to the families of fallen first responders in attendance.

Girls Scout Troop 4522 was present to say The Pledge of Allegiance and a bagpipe accompanist played “Amazing Grace” as the ceremony concluded.