2016-09-14 / Front Page

In Loving Memory

BY JASON D. ANTOS


The NYPD color guard displaying the flags during the singing of the National Anthem at McManus Memorial Park in Astoria Heights during the candlelight vigil in observance of the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 
Photo Jason D. Antos The NYPD color guard displaying the flags during the singing of the National Anthem at McManus Memorial Park in Astoria Heights during the candlelight vigil in observance of the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Photo Jason D. Antos The motto of this year’s September 11th ceremony was “Fifteen Years of Tears.”

And so it was as more than 300 came to McManus Memorial Park on 81st Street and the Grand Central Parkway service road in Astoria Heights for a candlelight vigil in observance of the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

On September 8, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANY/NJ) and city Department of Correction was on hand for the ceremony presented annually by the United Community Civic Association (UCCA) and hosted by the organization’s President Rose Marie Poveromo.

The vigil and memorial commemorated the victims who lost their lives in the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and those who continue to suffer and die to this day, from health ailments that were the result of working on “the pile” of rubble, where fumes and vapors lingered in the air for weeks.


The parents of fallen FDNY firefighter Christopher Santora, Al and Maureen Santora. 
Photos Jason D. Antos The parents of fallen FDNY firefighter Christopher Santora, Al and Maureen Santora. Photos Jason D. Antos “We can never forget this tragedy, and we must make sure that future generations know about what happened on September 11th,” Poveromo said.

Many civic leaders and elected officials were present at the ceremony, including Borough President Melinda Katz, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Councilman Costa Constantinides and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker. The ceremony was also sponsored by the city Department of Correction. Gus Antonopoulos Funeral Home donated the candles.

“Tonight is an opportunity to remember our friends, family and loved ones who were taken from us on that terrible day,” UCCA President Rose Marie Poveromo said. “Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. We must keep remembrance alive.”


Many civic leaders and elected officials were present at the ceremony, including State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Councilman Costa Constantinides, Borough President Melinda Katz and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker. Many civic leaders and elected officials were present at the ceremony, including State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Councilman Costa Constantinides, Borough President Melinda Katz and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker. The evening’s program began with the singing of the National Anthem, which was followed by a performance from the NYC Department of Correction Pipe Band, Port Authority Police Department Pipe and Drum Band and the NYPD Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Band, who performed “Amazing Grace”.

Of the many speeches given during the ceremony, none were more poignant than those given by those who lost family members on Sept. 11, 2001: Al and Maureen Santora, parents of fallen firefighter Christopher Santora; and John Cartier, whose brother James was killed on the 105th Floor.


More than 300 came to McManus Memorial Park for the candlelight vigil. More than 300 came to McManus Memorial Park for the candlelight vigil. “I remember going down to Ground Zero looking for my brother James,” Cartier remembered. “I was determined to find his remains which were later discovered and verified through DNA.”

Cartier recalled a dream he had after working 24 hours straight to find his brother’s body. In the dream, Cartier received a phone call from his brother James. Cartier pleaded with his brother to tell him where to look for his body. The brother replied that he was in a good place and enjoying a beer.

“They have beer where you are James?” asked Cartier. “John, where I am, they have everything.”

Cartier, a founding member of the American Brotherhood Motorcycle Club created on Sept. 13, 2002, participates in many community events including food drives at local food pantries and visits to VA hospitals, where his group members lend a helping hand.

Poveromo also had words of criticism for the public school system’s stance on not teaching about September 11th in the classroom.

“It is unbelievable to me that this city’s Department of Education has not and will not allow the September 11, 2001 national tragedy, a part of American history, as part of its curriculum, knowing full well that teachers mold the minds of all students,” she said. “Shame on the Department of Education and the powers that be for failing to teach this history and bury it along with the almost 3,000 innocent souls sacrificed on the altar of terrorism in an undeclared war by radical Islamic terrorists who perverted the Islamic faith of millions of peace-loving Muslims all over the world.”

Since 2002, McManus Memorial Park has been the site of a memorial tree. The memorial includes an illuminated pole representing the vertical beams of light that have been displayed at the World Trade Center site since the attacks in 2001.

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