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Bayside precinct commends 9/11 rescuers with plaque

Northeast Queens is far from Ground Zero, but Monday’s six- month anniversary of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack still unleashed strong emotions in this corner of the city.

To mark the anniversary, the 111th Police Precinct Community Council invited the area’s firehouses to join the police in the dedication of a memorial plaque at the Bayside precinct.

As a group of police officers in full dress uniform and about a dozen firefighters from Bayside, Douglaston and Oakland Gardens listened, Sol Soskin, a Little Neck resident and president of the community council, talked about the memorial.

“We felt that something should be done for what they went through over those first few weeks and the last few months,” he said of the police and firefighters. “We agreed a tribute should be made.”

The memorial plaque, which hangs in the entryway of the precinct, is dedicated to the NYPD, the FDNY, the Port Authority, EMS workers and volunteers.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told the crowd solemnly that Sept. 11 is “a day that no one should ever forget. What you’re doing today, putting a permanent plaque on the wall, it will make sure we never forget. Any of us.”

Brown urged the audience to use Sept. 11 as a way to appreciate their loved ones.

“Go home and hug those that are close to you,” he said. “Hold them tightly.”

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) also praised the precinct council for dedicating the plaque.

“This was our Pearl Harbor,” he said of the Sept. 11 attack. “To do these things on the local level is very important.”

The community council had been working since October to create the memorial, members Bernie Caulfield and Kaye Tinkelman said.

The goal of the memorial was to dedicate it to all the emergency services personnel who contributed and sacrificed on Sept. 11, Tinkelman said.

“We didn’t want anybody left out,” she said.

111th Precinct Commanding Officer Captain Julio Ordoñez, a former Marine who accepted an American flag donated to the precinct by Soskin, said the plaque “is very befitting. It’s a reminder — life is too short.”

Fire Chief Vincent Sweeney, of Battalion 53 on Springfield Boulevard, said: “I think any citizen of this city can go anywhere in the world and say ‘I’m a New Yorker’ and hold his head up high.”

Police Chief Edward Cannon said the 111th Community Council plaque was a symbol of the city’s outpouring of support for the police and fire departments.

“It’s the support we always knew we had but was never as widespread or public,” he said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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