Great Neck remembering the fallen on Sept. 11

Great Neck remembering the fallen on Sept. 11
Temple Israel congregants attended an early 9/11 memorial last year on Saddle Rock's memorial bridge, marking the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks. Many will be coming back again this year. (Photo by Joe Nikic)

When two hijacked planes struck the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, fire departments and first responders from the tristate area flooded the scene, including many people from the Great Neck area.

Initially, Vigilant Fire Company Fire Chief Joshua Forst said, two or three people from the company immediately went to the city. After that, between 20 and 25 people would go down.

“The first night, I was basically on the periphery,” Forst said. “It was what you saw in the pictures, which was just piles of rubble and pieces of bodies and what not.”

“It was entirely overwhelming,” Forst added.

But, Forst said, many residents from Great Neck who were just going to work died in the terror attacks. This year’s memorial ceremony, like others past, is a means to remember the responders and civilians who died that day.

Of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, 56 were from the Town of North Hempstead and five from Great Neck. Those five were Peter Christopher Frank, Jonathan Lee Ielpi, Frederick Kuo Jr., Andrew Stergiopoulos and Joshua S. Vitale.

“It’s about remembering all of them and the thousands of the people who passed away in Manhattan, in Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon, and it’s about making sure that we stop yearly to do it,” Forst said.

Vigilant Fire Company will host the memorial ceremony starting at 8:30 a.m. at Jonathan Lee Ielpi Park, which is named after a lifelong Great Neck resident and assistant fire chief who died responding to the terror attack.

Forst said the event will mark the timeline of events and have a moment of silence. A siren will sound at the time the buildings fell.

Typically, members of the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department and Alert Fire Company attend the memorial event, as well as the general public.

Temple Israel will also host a memorial ceremony with Saddle Rock at the 9-11 Memorial Bridge, where residents saw the World Trade Center disappear from the skyline, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11.

“People gathered on that bridge on the real Sept. 11 to watch what was going on and they were able to see what was taking place right from Long Island,” said Marc Katz, a spokesman for Temple Israel.

Katz said people will meet at Temple Israel and then walk to the bridge, which is closed to pedestrian traffic, where they will conduct the prayer service.

Typically the temple invites fire companies from the area and a guest speaker to discuss  that day. This year’s speaker has not yet been confirmed.

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