22 Years Later: 9/11 Remembrance on Fire Island



P1030748 2.JPG


Like other communities across Fire Island, as well as small towns and big cities across the U.S., first responders, clergy and neighbors gathered in Ocean Beach to support one another as they paid respects to mark this solemn occasion.

Downpours of rain this early Monday morning prompted a hasty change of venue from the World Trade Center relic memorial in front of the Ocean Beach Fire House, to indoors at the Ocean Beach Community House. It was also the first September 11th ceremony being conducted with new leadership at the helm of the Ocean Beach Fire Department for over a decade.

First Assistant Chief Peter Brennan conducted the event beautifully as he delivered his opening address during the first year of being a United States Citizen – and people in the audience were moved by this fact.

Speeches were also given by Ocean Beach Mayor James Mallott, former OBFD Fire Chief and former Village Trustee Andrew Miller, Father Eric Fasano of Our Lady of the Magnificat Church among others. Common threads they all mentioned as they spoke to the audience included the sacrifices of those who died that fateful day, the long haul of subsequent deaths suffered by first responders at Ground Zero who contracted 9/11 related illnesses in the years and decades that followed, and the collective anguish of those who lost loved ones not only at World Trade – but the Pentagon and Flight 93.

The memorial wreath was presented by sisters Lauren and Megan Hesse, the daughters of Ocean Beach Police Chief and now Ocean Beach Fire Chief, George Hesse. The young women have followed in their father’s footsteps as Lauren is EMS Captain with the OBFD and Megan a newly inducted officer with the OBPD.

As gray clouds gave way to sunny skies, closing sentiments were given by Margaret Mazel representing Fire Island Synagogue, who noted that Rosh Hashanah is approaching in only a few days – and that the phrases ‘never forget’ and ‘God Bless America’ transcend the boundaries of religion. Her words were met by applause from the audience.