The atrocities of September 11, 2001 happened 12 years ago, but on the North Fork, firefighters say the day feels only a heartbeat away.
A huge flag is draped over the Southold Fire Department, and at 4:30 p.m., both the Southold and Greenport Fire Departments will head over to Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic with ladder trucks, to drape the flag over the entrance.
To commemorate the 12th Anniversary of 9/11, an annual “Never Forget” ceremony will be held at Cochran Park from 5 to 7 p.m. The public may come and place flags throughout the park to memorialize the 3000 victims. The flags will be made available for placement at the park. There will not be any formal ceremony but the community is encouraged to come either on their way home or after dinner with the family to “Never Forget” fellow Americans.
Members of North Fork fire departments will begin to arrive at 5:30 p.m., with a walk-through at the memorial at around 6 p.m.
"Many North Fork volunteer firefighters responded to Ground Zero when the 8th Division was activated on the morning of September 11th, 2001, and numerous firefighters from the North Fork, both FDNY and volunteer, aided in the rescue and recovery efforts," said Southold Fire Captain Joe McCarthy.
He added that 343 members of the FDNY, from "young firemen all the way to the top brass in the department, were lost that day. We must never forget their sacrifice. They were the front line in the constant battle for the freedom we so often take for granted. Almost 3000 lives were taken on 9/11/01, and we as a nation, need to remember all of them. Never Forget."
To that end, the Southold Town Fire Chiefs Council, with the cooperation of the Town of Southold, created the Southold Town Volunteer Firefighters Memorial.
The memorial, dedicated to all Southold Town volunteer firefighters who have died in the line of duty, encircles the 9/11 memorial located at Jean Cochran Park on Peconic Lane in Peconic.
The existing memorial was constructed of beams originally used to build the 33rd floor of the World Trade Center, and has a well-known and loved osprey wire sculpture, created by artist Roberto Julio Bessin, sitting on top of the beams.
The memorial consists of a wall along with columns, identifying each Southold Town Fire Department.
The names of the firefighters who have made the greatest sacrifice are engraved on a plaque affixed to the appropriate column, along with their respective department’s information. Anyone can add a brick at any time; just speak with a firefighter for information.
The public area between the 9/11 memorial and the sitting wall, “Hero’s Plaza”, was finished with brick pavers.
According to McCarthy, the firefighter’s memorial is a forever tribute to the volunteers who gave their lives to help others.