They have not forgotten him.
Riverhead turned out yesterday to honor the memory of one of their own: firefighter Thomas R. Kelly, who was killed in the the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Residents of Reeves Park, where Kelly lived, were joined by others from throughout the town, as well as members of the Riverhead Fire Department and elected officials, to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America. See video.
With Kelly’s elderly parents, siblings, nieces and nephews and a fire department color guard, they marched up the road renamed in his memory “Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive” to the site of the roadside memorial on the corner of Sound Avenue. There, a rusted, jagged-edged piece of steel from the World Trade Center rested against the stone wall of the small memorial site, beneath a flagpole from which flies a 9-11 commemorative U.S. flag. A bronze plaque is affixed to a large rock lugged up from Reeves Beach by Kelly’s brother, Bob, also a NYC firefighter and friends. “This flag waves in memory of F.F. Thomas Richard Kelly, E. 219, L. 105, killed in the line of duty saving lives at the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001.”
Shielding candle flames struggling against a strong breeze, they paid tribute to Kelly and his 342 fellow firefighters who were killed in the collapse of the Twin Towers.
“We are gathered here tonight to stand side by side with our families, our friends, our neighbors, to show each other that we will never forget,” said Sound Park Heights Civic Association president Eric Biegler, who opened the ceremony.
“We will never forget the thousands of innocents lost on those planes and in those towers. We will never forget the lives lost in the Pentagon. We will never forget the brave passengers on Flight 93 and we will certainly never forget the first responders, the heroes, who selflessly rushed to help others,” Biegler said. “We will never forget the other heroes, from all over the country, all walks of life, who spent months working at ground zero, who still suffer the scars. And we will never forget the families of all those who sacrificed. We will never forget.”
Deacon Michael Bonocore of St. Isidore’s offered prayers and scripture readings. Patrick O’Neill, a Riverhead High School senior, played the bagpipes.
State Senator Ken LaValle, County Legislator Ed Romaine and Town Board members John Dunleavy and James Wooten attended the 6:30 p.m. candlelight service, set against the backdrop of the wooded four-acre parcel currently slated for a controversial commercial development. Opposition to the plan has galvanized the Reeves Park community, which is seeking preservation of the site for a permanent Sept. 11 memorial park. After the service, resident Mike Foley presented Romaine with an envelope containing copies of a petition he said had been signed by more than 1,200 people from throughout Riverhead who oppose commercial development of the Sound Avenue corridor. Foley said he had filed the petition with the Town Clerk last week. See related story.
Romaine told Foley he has already drafted a resolution to be introduced in the County Legislature on Tuesday that will initiate the county process for land acquisition.
“I am opposed to any commercial development in this historic corridor other than farmsteads and wineries,” Romaine said.
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