The front of Tuesday night’s annual Seaford 9/11 Memorial Ceremony program read “2012…Eleven years of Patriotism.”
This year’s 9/11 candlelight remembrance service at held on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks recognized how the tragedy inspired the community to come together. Since the terrorist attacks 11 years ago that claimed the lives of five Seaford High School graduates at the World Trade Center, Patriot Award scholarships have been rewarded to 51 students totaling more than $115,000. In addition, the Seaford High School 9/11 Memorial Committee helped establish one of the first community-wide ‘Commitment to Service” programs in the nation as part of their effort to keep the memories alive of graduates Thomas T. Haskell'82, Timothy S. Haskell'85, John W. Perry'82, Robert F. Sliwak'77 and Michael R. Wittenstein'85.
“Thanks to the legacy of Thomas Haskell, Timothy Haskell, John Perry, Robert Sliwak and Michael Wittenstein, we embrace patriotism, service and each other as never before,” said Stephen Bongiovi, a member of the Seaford High School 9/11 Memorial Committee and former longtime teacher in the Seaford School District, during Tuesday evening’s ceremony. “Seaford High School has been blessed by the presence of these young men among us. The Seaford High School 9/11 Memorial Committee cannot sufficiently thank their families… for their extraordinary kindness, fortitude and enduring strength they have provided us throughout this community initiative for the past 11 years.”
Brothers Thomas and Timothy Haskell were New York City firefighters and Perry was an officer with the New York City Police Department who was in the process of submitting retirement papers when the first plane struck the World Trade Center North Tower, prompting his response to the scene. Sliwak and Wittenstein both worked at financial services firm Cantor-Fitzgerald near the top of the World Trade Center's North Tower.
For the second year in a row, more than 200 American flags measuring around six feet tall were placed around the Seaford High School 9/11 memorial and teaching plaza for the commemoration service. The memorial was first dedicated on Nov. 23, 2002 following a community fundraising effort. Bongiovi said during Tuesday's ceremony that there are plans to soon place an artifact from the World Trade Center at the memorial site.
U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, spoke during the memorial service about how Seaford is one of the few communities to annually hold a commemorative 9/11 ceremony.
“Most communities no longer have these commemorations and those that do have nowhere near the size of the turnout that Seaford has,” said Congressman King. “It’s not because Seaford is a especially large community but from the first days of Sept. 11th, the Seaford community came forward, the Seaford community responded, the Seaford community was there for the families and a tremendous expression of unity from day one right through today.”