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JFK chamber of commerce breaks ground on 9/11 memorial park

Servicemen and women of all stripes were at the JFK Airport Ball Field to honor the 37 port authority officers who died at Ground Zero and from 9/11-related illnesses after doing rescue work at the World Trade Center.
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Fallen Port Authority members were honored at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Ball Field Monday with a reading of the names of those who perished Sept. 11 and then later from Ground Zero-related illnesses.

A groundbreaking followed for the new 9/11 Memorial Park, which will honor the aviation personnel who will be remembered for years to come.

The Port Authority lost 84 members, 37 of whom were officers, in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States — when two hijacked jetliners struck World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2 — either in the collapse of the buildings that day or later amid the toxic clean-up efforts that followed.

“Our way of life, and specifically the industry of aviation, was changed forever,” said Mike Moran, general manager for the Port Authority. “These attacks were not just New Yorkers or those in Washington. They were an attack against America and our ideal of liberty and freedom born 241 years ago.”

Uniting as Americans from all walks of life was the theme championed throughout the service in front of a diverse crowd. After a moment of silence, a priest, imam, reverend and rabbi spoke briefly and prayed for the families, friends and colleagues of those who had died.

Presiding over the creation of the 9/11 Memorial Park was the JFK Chambers of Commerce and its president, Joseph Clabby.

“We are a community,” Clabby said. “We need to show the world that we still care.”

The park is 5.5 acres, and the chamber is still in phase one of the process in developing the memorial, according to Clabby.

The chamber is currently looking at three renderings in terms of design for the park, where he would like to include park benches so family, friends, and people from the local community could come and stop by to see the memorial and never forget the bravery of those men and women.

There is a 200-by-200 square foot spot designated for the initial memorial, a partial piece of a steel girder from Ground Zero that will be on display, and a place where people will see the names of the fallen aviation personnel, according to the chamber’s president.

At the end of the remembrance Monday shirts in red, white and blue were sold to help raise money for the park and in October Clabby will make an announcement about a fund-raiser to general more money for the completion of the memorial.

Aviation High School’s color guard attended the event, as did elected officials from southeast Queens, including Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Far Rockaway).

“This is an emotional day,” said Richards, who remembered learning about the attack while at Nyack College. “It’s a day you never forget for all those friends and families who lost those service workers who gave their lives for us. It’s incumbent upon us that we carry on their legacies.

“When 9/11 struck, it hit everyone across religion, across ethnicities, and across creed. When those people attacked America, they attacked our democracy. We have to continue on to fight for their memories.”

Flight attendants and pilots who died on United Airlines and American Airlines flights were named during the roll call. Those lost during the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center were also remembered.

Finally, there was also a prayer offered for those who were killed during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Updated 1:24 pm, September 15, 2017
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