A somber Sept. 11 ceremony planned in observance of the tragedy's 20th anniversary


An annual 9/11 memorial ceremony on Saturday that will be hosted by New York state Sen. Jim Gaughran and his predecessor, former state Sen. Carl Marcellino. Members of the Oyster Bay and Atlantic Steamer fire departments, the clergy and the Oyster Bay Community Band will also be there. This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11.

“The 20th anniversary brings enhanced context because we’re thinking back to what happened and the fact that we lost so many brave men and women 20 years ago and have been through so much since,” Gaughran said. “Even 20 years later I think it’s nice that a lot of the families [of the victims] do come back. I hope they receive some comfort in seeing that the community wants to remember and honor their loved ones who were lost.”

The Memorial features a beam from the World Trade Center Twin Towers obtained by the Atlantic Steamer Fire Department and a remembrance wall inscribed with the names of local victims.

“We had a number of individuals from our community die that day,” Marcellino said. “I wanted a memorial in Oyster Bay so the victims’ families could have somewhere close to home to mourn their loved ones.”

Marcellino originally acquired the funding from Albany for the Oyster Bay memorial because the town’s annual Sept. 11 ceremony was held at Burns Park in Massapequa, he said, too far away for Oyster Bay residents.

“I consider it my finest achievement,” Marcellino said. “With the help of Governor Pataki and Supervisor John Venditto and his manpower, we were able to make this memorial a reality.”

When Marcellino lost to Gaughran in 2018, Atlantic Steamer Fire Co. #1 and the Oyster Bay Fire Department Co. #1 staff contacted Gaughran’s office to see if the annual commemoration of Sept. 11 would continue. Gaughran contacted  Marcellino and asked the former senator to co-host the ceremony because he began the tradition with the building of the memorial.

Marcellino’s wife, Patricia, told Gaughran they had been given photos of the last event by former staffer Charlotte Longo who with Kathy Wilson, worked on the event over the years. Marcellino shared those 2018 photos, the layout for the event and contact information to help in the arrangements.

“I usually go and take photos of the ceremony,” Patricia said. “The victims’ families come, which is lovely. It’s a very solemn ceremony but very moving at the same time.”

The ceremony, which takes place every year to memorialize those who died, was held last year during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. To abide by social distancing guidelines, the ceremony was live streamed on Gaughran’s Facebook page and there was limited seating for family members of those who died in the attacks.

“This ceremony is really all about remembering the people who perished,” Gaughran said. “We show the photos of the victims and read their names; the victims’ families are there — it’s really a very nice, peaceful ceremony to honor them.”

Academics and air pollution experts have described the dust from the collapsed towers as “wildly toxic,” made up of more than 2,500 contaminants, including glass, lead and mercury. When the planes crashed into the towers, 24,000 gallons of jet fuel ignited a fire that spread to 100,000 tons of organic debris and 230,000 gallons of transformer, heating and diesel oils in the buildings, setting off a giant toxic plume of soot and dust from pulverized building materials, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

The fires continued to burn during the rescue and recovery operations at ground zero, and workers were exposed to chemicals like asbestos, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, crystalline silica and other metals and particulates. Those exposed to World Trade Center dust are more likely to develop lung problems, respiratory symptoms, and sinus problems or asthma, according to the Never Forget Project. The World Trade Center Health Program also recognizes certain mental health conditions, digestive disorders, musculoskeletal disorders and cancers as being related to Sept. 11.

“No one told anyone about the health issues they would get down the road from the aftermath,” Gaughran said. “It’s important we honor those who have passed from related illnesses over the years since the attack and not just those who died the day of. Their sacrifices are just as significant.”

Wade Brian Green, who died when he was 42, will be added to the list of names at the memorial and to this year’s reading of the names during the remembrance ceremony. Green was a field service representative for Thomson Financial and was at Windows on the World in the North tower setting up computer equipment for a conference, his widow, Roxanne, said. His remains were never found.

“Even though it’s so many years later I hope that Wade’s family has some comfort in seeing his name recognized and honored at the memorial and the ceremony,” Gaughran said.

The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Theodore Roosevelt Park Western Waterfront 9/11 Memorial on West End Avenue in Oyster Bay.