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Bayside 9/11 memorial board set to be dismantled

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Like the rest of the city, many Bayside residents found their loved ones had not returned home the night of Sept. 11, 2001.

Hoping their lost friends and family were still alive, Baysiders put up a poster board on the Bell Boulevard overpass over the Long Island Rail Road tracks for missing posters. Grieving poems, photographs and flowers soon adorned the makeshift monument.

One year later, the Kiwanis Club of Bayside, a branch of an international service organization, elected to hold a service at the Sept. 11 Memorial Board in honor of Bayside residents who were killed or participated in the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center.

About 70 men, woman and children came to the informal service Sunday evening. The board, maintained by the Kiwanis Club, was slated to be taken down due to the Bayside Business Association’s plans to Bell Boulevard in a project that will begin on the LIRR overpass.

The club expects to keep the contents of the memorial for possible future display.

Robert Lynch, the Kiwanis member in charge of taking care of the board, told the assembled crowd the memorial had become tremendously popular in Bayside.

“Every time people talked about taking it down, people went crazy, frankly,” Lynch said. “Even now, people are coming to us this evening asking us to please leave it in place.”

While the board may soon be a memory, several more permanent memorials are being planned for Bayside.

Both the Bayside Business Association and the East Bayside Homeowners Association are considering installing plaques honoring the victims of Sept. 11 near the site of the Kiwanis memorial.

Frank Skala, president of East Bayside Homeowners, said his group wanted a plaque that listed all the victims who had lived or worked in Bayside at some point in their lives. At Sunday’s service, Skala read a list of 25 victims from Bayside, only to learn of two additional names from attendees at the end of the event.

Several clergy members, who Lynch said were the unsung heroes of Sept. 11, were called for to speak and lead the group in prayer.

“One thing we ask the Lord is for the courage, the courage to overcome and not be overwhelmed,” said the Rev. Robert Perless of the Church on the Hill in Flushing.

Monsignor John Mahoney of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Bayside said communities have grown closer since the Sept. 11 attacks on the Twin Towers.

“We have seen over the past year so much goodness, so much love,” he said. “By our presence here, all of us are saying we remember, we care, we shall never forget.”

U.S. Rep Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) attended the event and recounted Congress’s Friday session in Manhattan.

“At the end of the day what we learned last year was how much more unites us than divides us,” Weiner said.

Toward the end of the service, the fire truck of Bayside’s Engine Co. 306 pulled up slowly to the gathering. Upon request, Lt. Ryan Hamilton gave a small speech at the ceremony.

“It’s a difficult time for us in the Fire Department,” he said, referring to the loss of 343 firefighters at the World Trade Center. “We just want you to know we’ll be here today, we’ll be here tomorrow, we’ll be here always.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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