Marines, Veterans Commemorate Sept. 11 With Ceremony
By Sgt. John Neal
| | August 30, 2002
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. --
Area veterans and Marines united to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11 at the Sgt. John Mackie Center in Garden City Aug. 30.
A platoon of 40 Marines from 1st Marine Corps District headquarters and about as many guests - many of them Marines who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam - paid tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center by presenting one of the three flags associated with Ground Zero.
Detective Second Grade Peter Conlin of the New York Police Department recovered the flag presented at the ceremony from Ground Zero the day of the attack. Members of New York City's emergency services and victims' family members signed the flag then turned it over to the Marines. The flag was taken to Marines forward deployed in Afghanistan and was flown at Camp Rhino outside of Kandahar. Recently, the flag was presented at the opening ceremony for the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens.
"I don't need help to remember the day, but it [the flag] helps others remember the 23 members [of the NYPD who died at the World Trade Center]," said Conlin. "It represents the 3,000 lost. I only wish more people could see it and read what's written ... that's what it's all about."
Monsignor Walter Murphy, chaplain for the 1st Marine Division Association New York Chapter, read a prayer commonly used for funeral services from the Book of Wisdom. Adding to the somber occasion, the melancholy sound of "Taps" filled the room, and many of the veterans were visibly shaken by a surge of emotion.
Tom Fahey of Levittown and a World War II veteran choked up trying to explain his feelings during the ceremony.
"We've gone through too much," he said, relating to his own struggle as a Marine fighting in the Pacific and the struggle of a nation a year after the worst terrorist attack in American history.
Seventeen pipers and drummers from the Nassau County Police Department Pipe and Drum Band culminated the ceremony with a rendition of Anchor's Away and The Marines' Hymn.
The ceremony also allowed for Marines who once served their country to meet with current active-duty Marines. Following the brief ceremony, Marines past and present swapped news and sea stories over a traditional Marine breakfast of eggs, chipped beef on toast, bacon and coffee.
"It keeps us going," said Joe Davis of Queens, who served in the early 1950's. "It keeps us feeling a part of the Marine Corps."