College Pt. shows pride in recovery from Sept. 11

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More than 2,000 Northeast Queens politicians, police, firefighters and College Point residents gathered at MacNeil Park Sunday afternoon to commemorate those lost in the World Trade Center disaster.

“College Point, you’ve done yourself proud again,” said City Councilman Mike Abel (R-Bayside), admiring the large crowd in front of him.

Organized by Rocco and Sabina Cardali of the College Point Security Patrol, the event had attendees bring folding chairs and American flags in keeping with its theme of patriotism. Rocco Cardali estimated that 2,200 people attended.

Members of Engine Cos. 144 and 130 drove their fire trucks to the event, and several community affairs police officers attended in plainclothes.

Although a memorial service, the event was more of a low-key celebration than a time of mourning.

“I think it is an optimistic day; people are galvanized,” said College Point resident Bob Saenger as he watched the crowd sing the national anthem. Saenger was working in the Verizon Building across from the World Trade Center Sept. 11 and witnessed the second plane crash into the South Tower. “It’s more of a supportive day than a sad day,” he added.

Rocco Cardali was moderator of the service. He introduced children from PS 129 and St. Paul’s, who stood in front of the crowd and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Cardali did not mention any names of Twin Tower victims specifically from College Point. “I didn’t want to leave anybody out,” he later said.

Rev. Carl Rosenblum of the First Reformed Church in College Point emphasized the pride that the community felt in coping with the disaster.

“It’s a very good time to be who we are,” he said. “Today the whole world will say, ‘I am a New Yorker.’”

U.S. Rep Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) spoke of his relationship with his cousin John Moran, a firefighter from the Rockaways who was lost in the World Trade Center attack.

“You can multiply John Moran by 6,000 lives, and all that was lost,” he said.

Nevertheless, Crowley sounded an optimistic note. While a few dozen people were responsible for thousands of deaths, Crowley said that many more people worked to save lives.

“Almost 500 individuals gave their lives so about 25,000 could live, and my cousin John was among them,” he said.

Crowley also talked of the spirit of bipartisanship in recent weeks. Speaking of President Bush, he said, “I’ve grown to respect the man tremendously in the last month.”

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) noted that the Twin Towers could no longer be seen from the park. He said he was still bewildered by the attack.

“We went to Bosnia to protect whom?” he asked. “The Muslim minority were being persecuted. We went to Kuwait to protect whom? Who provided the greatest amount of aid to the Afghan people? The United States of America. How that same group of people, at least a small part of them, could come to us and say we are the evil empire is beyond my ability to comprehend.”

He added, “We all feel the sense of unity that pervades our nation and nowhere is it more apparent than in College Point.”

Reach Reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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