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There was a distinct emotional feeling among attendees at Maspeth Federal Savings’ annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony this year as the community marked the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
As it is annually, the ceremony was held in front of a 9/11 monument in Maspeth Memorial Park dedicated to the 19 firefighters from Squad 288/HazMat 1 and others from the community who lost their lives on that morning.
The Squad 288/Hazmat 1 firehouse, which is located just off the memorial park, had the single largest loss of firefighters of any FDNY firehouse on September 11.
But this year’s ceremony looked a bit different, with the gate surrounding Memorial Square behind the monument adorned with banners displaying the names of the firefighters from Squad 288/HazMat 1.
Each name was read aloud at the event.
Kenneth Rudzewick, host of the event, cited the importance of holding memorial ceremonies like this one every year.
“This is a 20-year journey that has affected most of our lives, remembering the attack and marking it is vital,” he said. “There is no better way to honor the lives of those heroes taken in 2001 than to protect and honor their fellow rescuers of today.”
The ceremony included words from Vincent Tomeo, a retired high school teacher and poet; music from husband-and-wife duo Bill and Liz Huisman, and the singing of the National Anthem by Kathleen Nealon.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to sit here for the last 20 years,” said Nealon. “I keep all of those who died on 9/11 and their families in my prayers always, as well as those who have died from 9/11-related illnesses and continue to suffer from that day.”
In addition to the 343 firefighters killed directly in the attack, 253 later died due to complications from their rescue work at Ground Zero.
Maspeth Federal Savings continues to honor them and add them to the memorial, including Firefighter Thomas Oelkers, who died just this May from a World Trade Center-related illness.
Congresswoman Grace Meng and Councilman Robert Holden discussed the importance of not only remembering and honoring the lives lost, but also how to carry out justice on their behalf in the present day.
Meng said that Congress is working on a resolution to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 to ensure that New York’s future generations never forget the events of that day.
“We are also working on a bipartisan basis to make sure that we are fully funding the health programs that will benefit so many of the victims’ families and to take care of those who are still with us,” she said.
Holden, alongside the Juniper Park Civic Association, has fought to have the Maspeth firehouse recognized as a landmark. The Landmarks Preservation Commission turned down their request because it was constructed too recently.
“The Landmarks Preservation Commission will have to landmark this,” he said “We’re not going to wait 30 years.”
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For the 17th consecutive year, Maspeth Federal Savings will be a corporate sponsor of the Relay for Life event in Middle Village.
“We are proud to support such an important cause and fight against a disease that touches so many people’s lives,” said Kristen Sapienza, senior bank officer and marketing supervisor. “The Relay for Life is an amazing event that not only raises funds for essential programs and patient services, but has also formed a community support system for anyone who has been affected by cancer.”
The event involves teams of taking turns walking or jogging through the night around the track at Juniper Valley Park. It will take place on Saturday, September 25. For this year only, there will be a “pop up” three-hour version of Relay For Life from 6-9 p.m. A festive atmosphere includes music and entertainment.
“Funds raised through Relay For Life help ACS fund and conduct breakthrough research, and give cancer patients and their families the resources they need, like free rides to chemo, free places to stay near hospitals, and a live 24/7 helpline for answers and support,” said Leslie Orlovsky, senior manager of Community Events with the American Cancer Society.
For more information or to register, call (347) 850-6868 or e-mail email@example.com.
The BStreetband performed the songs of Bruce Springsteeen at the parking lot of Maspeth Federal Savings at Grand Avenue and 69th Street last week.
“They were really good,” said Kathleen Connell. “I felt like I was actually at a Bruce Springsteen concert. Their saxophone player would have made Clarence Clemons proud.”
The BStreetBand debuted as Backstreets in 1980 in Asbury Park before an audience of over 2,000 Boss fans.
Nearly 6,000 performances later, they still thit the stage, playing over 175 shows per year throughout the country.
Maspeth Federal’s upcoming “Movies Under the Star” program include Guardians of the Galaxy on August 18 and a drive-in movie night featuring The Little Mermaid on August 25. That performance requires registration beforehand.