It was sunny and warm on Wednesday, but there was a slight breeze, too, that made the American flag furl in the pre-dusk sky. The annual Sept. 11 Memorial Ceremony in Oyster Bay was heartfelt, sprinkled with hometown moments that included patriotic music by the Oyster Bay Community Band, somber local veterans leading the Pledge of Allegiance and scouts of all ages placing roses and miniature flags next to the plaques bearing the names of the local victims.
Everyone had gathered at the western waterfront of Theodore Roosevelt Park to honor the 23 local people who died on Sept. 11, 2001. Their photos served as reminders of how much was lost when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. They probably took the Long Island Rail Road that morning, Sen. Jim Gaughran said, after pausing to wait for the noise of a passing train to subside. But they never came home.
One victim, Thomas Mahon, was a broker at Cantor Fitzgerald in the north tower. The Oyster Bay resident, who was married and had a daughter, was 37 years old.
“Tom was a very caring kid, and a lot of fun, who wanted to keep people happy,” said Oyster Bay Civic Association President Rich LaMarca, a childhood friend. “He always had a smile on his face.”
Mahon lived next door to John McEvoy, a member of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Board of Education. They were best friends, and had attended St. Dominic High School together.
“Tom was gregarious, an interesting person who was adventurous,” McEvoy recalled. “I really do think of him every day.”
Former Sen. Carl Marcellino 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. Gaughran asked Marcellino to co-hosted Wednesday’s ceremony.
“Believe it or not, I consider Jim a friend,” Marcellino, a Republican, said of Gaughran, a Democrat. “The world of politics can be nasty. Jim is a gentleman.”
Gaughran described the attacks as an assault on the country’s democracy.
“We all remember where we were that day, and can never forget the pain and suffering,” he said. “Strangers worked together to help other strangers.”
Andrea Treble’s sister, 15 months her junior, died on Sept. 11. Gabriela Silvina Waisman, an office manager on Broad Street, was at Windows on the World, atop the north tower. Waisman, who was 33, had volunteered to help a friend organize a breakfast event at the restaurant.
“Gaby loved life, and lived every moment to the fullest,” Treble said. “She was funny, kind and caring. She treated everyone as though they were family.”
Treble tried to have her sister’s name added to the memorial for years, but was denied because Waisman had lived in Queens. Treble said she reached out to Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan and Gaughran, who succeeded in having Waisman’s name added, because Treble is an Oyster Bay resident.
“My children play sports here,” Treble said, “and it means so much to us to see my sister’s name here.”
The family had visited ground zero in Lower Manhattan earlier in the day for the annual Sept. 11 ceremony there. Treble’s son, Callaway, an Oyster Bay Middle School eighth-grader, was one of the volunteers who read the names of the victims, which he also did last year.
“It’s nice to be able to do that,” he said. “It opens my eyes a little bit when I go there.”
Treble’s daughter, Gaby, age 16, was named after Waisman. Although she doesn’t look exactly like her, Treble said she sees her sister in her daughter. “She has that sparkle in her eye,” she said. “And she’s mischievous, just like her aunt was.”