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 the anniversary of the attacks, Commack Patch would like to share some of the local stories of 9/11, of memories and lost loved ones, that have touched us over the years.
Commack resident James Ryder worked around the clock, securing the perimeter of Ground Zero and searching for bodies buried in the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center buildings in the days immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Soon after, Ryder was transferred to the NYPD's Office of Management and Planning, where he and two fellow officers created a DNA database used to identify the remains of 9/11 victims. For the next four years, Ryder combed through debris from Ground Zero to recover victims' personal items including jewelry and photographs, and return them to their families.
A decade later, the now-retired NYPD officer and former U.S. Marine volunteers with the FealGood Foundation, a group of first responders that campaigns tirelessly to raise awareness and funds to help those suffering the long-term mental and physical effects of working at Ground Zero. Ryder serves as the Director of Political Affairs for the non-profit.
Patch blogger Mendel Teldon shares his personal experience of where he was on the morning of the Sept. 11 attacks, and his own personal reaction.
"Where was I on September 11th, you ask?
At the time, I was studying at the Rabbinical College in Detroit. It was a regular morning of classes and prayers and as I was finishing my morning prayers one of the students came running in and started yelling about a bomb in New York and that buildings were falling. At first it sounded too unbelievable to take serious but when I realized there was truth to it, I ran to call my parents from the payphone," Teldon starts.
The Commack School District is in the process of constructing a Sept. 11 memorial at , which will include a piece of steel from the fallen World Trade center buildings.
The memorial will honor the victims and heroes of 9-11, and will be located in the Heroes Memorial Field at the High School.
This memorial will be unveiled for the first time and dedicated at Commack's 9/11 candlelight service 6 p.m. Tuesday at Commack High School.
Patch spoke with survivors of the attacks, families of those lost on the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.
Five days before Sept. 11, Anthony P. Bottan Sr.'s best friend left him a voicemail.
There was nothing special about it, one buddy asking another if he had time for lunch. Bottan didn't have time to call back, never mind sit down and eat.
The next week, his friend, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee, was dead, one of about 3,000 victims of the terrorist attack that destroyed the Twin Towers.
"I don’t put things off anymore. Life is too short, and full of unexpected surprises."
The vignette, written by our Rockville Centre editor's father, is one of nearly a thousandPatch.com ran throughout the country leading up to today, the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
On Long Island, where so many lost relatives and loved ones in nearby New York City, stories like Bottan's are common.
The tales are easy to find, but so difficult to tell.
How will you remember Sept. 11 this year? Tell us in the comments below.