POINT LOOKOUT, NY (AP) – A Long Island beach where people gathered and watched in horror as the distant World Trade Center towers collapsed on September 11, 2001 is the site of the latest memorial to victims of the terror attacks and among a growing number that honour people who died of illnesses years after participating in the rescue and recovery effort.
The monument, built by the town of Hempstead near the Atlantic Ocean on Long Island’s south shore, features a twisted, 30-foot-tall beam of Trade Center steel, an elevated walkway and granite plaques engraved with the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks.
A separate plaque will have the names of 582 police officers, firefighters, construction workers, cleanup volunteers and others who spent time in the rubble of the World Trade Center in the days or months after the attacks and, years later, died of a variety of causes that they, their families or their doctors suspected were linked to toxic ash and smoke at the site. There will be room to add more names.
“I think what the town of Hempstead is doing is nothing short of honourable,” said John Feal, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders with health problems. “People who lost a loved one to illness suffer just like someone lost on that day. Hopefully this will offer some east and comfort to them.”
Hempstead will officially dedicate its US$1.3 million memorial at a service today, the 16th anniversary of the attacks.
It joins a short but growing list of similar memorials recognising people who fell ill after participating in the rescue and recovery operation.
In May, officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced plans to set aside a commemorative space at the World Trade Center to honour rescue and recovery workers.
New York’s police and fire departments also have memorials for personnel who have died of illnesses since September 11. A 9/11 memorial in Staten Island recently added a plaque with the names of residents there who have died of illnesses.
In addition to the steel beam, planted like a flag, and the plaques with names, the memorial park includes a table inscribed with the Walt Whitman poem ‘On the Beach at Night’.
The east side of the park features a pear tree grown from a seedling from the so-called ‘Survivor Tree’ that lived through the destruction at ground zero.
Another plaque will point in the direction of the rebuilt World Trade Center, visible 24 miles in the distance.
“Having it on the beach at Point Lookout, the same place where hundreds of people assembled in the wake of the terrorist attacks, makes it uniquely compelling,” town supervisor Anthony Santino said.