9/11 brings LIers to Ground Zero to remember
Originally published: September 11, 2012 10:42 AM
Updated: September 11, 2012 10:53 AM
By CHAU LAM, MARIA ALVAREZ AND JENNIFER BARRIOS email@example.com
Photo credit: Justin Lane/Pool | Police officers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey carry an American flag that flew over the World Trade Center towers during the 11th anniversary ceremonies at Ground Zero. (Sept. 11, 2012)
As the names of the Sept. 11 victims echo across lower Manhattan on Tuesday morning, many Long Islanders are there remembering those lost, holding pictures and holding on to memories.
Many of those attending the ceremony at Ground Zero were connected to Long Island, making their annual visit to the site, paying their respects.
As names were read aloud, most family members gathered around the stage, set between the memorial’s two reflecting pools, to listen.
Some looked intently at those reading the names. Others lowered their heads slightly.
Rodriguez lives in Miami now, and she comes each year to attend the ceremony in honor of her son.
This year, her granddaughter will read Lillo’s name. And as Rodriguez waits, she holds a picture of her son rescuing a woman from one of the towers, before it collapsed, on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Please don’t forget about my son; he was a ‘caballero,’ ” she said, using the Spanish word for gentleman. “I come here every year, holding this picture. I’m sad, I’m very sad today. I’m living with a pain that is inside, that is always in my heart.”
Lillo’s aunt, Nelsa Rodriguez, of Huntington, said her nephew “loved helping people since he was a little boy. He was so sweet, always ready to give a helping hand.”
He remembers arriving at the site 11 years ago, with his fellow firefighters in a village fire truck. The area was desolate, a dust pile, said Loliscio, who lives in Baldwin.
He remembered a feeling of emptiness. “When we got here, it was all over. There was nothing to do. No one to rescue. No life to save. Not even a fire to fight,” he said.
The scene also remains etched in Loliscio’s memory. “When we got here, it was all dust . . . It was a day of horror, when the world stood still.”
He was dressed Tuesday morning in his firefighter’s uniform, with Ground Zero medals, standing in Zuccotti Park, looking at the memorial from afar.
Tracy Armentano, 39, of Rocky Hill, Conn., did not know city firefighter Michael J. Cawley, of North Bellmore, who died in the attacks, but she has come to Ground Zero every year for 10 years to support her friends who were friends of Cawley.
She wore a T-shirt with Cawley’s name and carried a photo of the Twin Towers.
“We’ve been coming for 10 years because we feel it’s important to be here,” Armentano said.
Walter Matuza, 20, of Staten Island, used to go fishing every year on Sept. 11. That was the favorite pastime of his father, Walter Matuza Jr., originally from West Babylon, who was in the north tower on the 92nd floor.
The younger Matuza, who said he became blind shortly after his father’s death, said he used to hate coming to 9/11 memorials — until the memorial plaza was built.
Matuza said he had come to the 10th memorial at the newly unveiled plaza.
“It was better now that we have this,” he said.
Matuza, who was accompanied by his mother and brothers, said he planned to spend the morning at the memorial before having a light lunch.
“It’s not as upsetting as it was at first,” he said “It feels better for me to come down here now.”
With Emily Ngo