Tears and Determination

By The TimesLedger staff

Queens sent its firefighters, police officers and volunteers to the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center to join the frantic search for survivors from the borough as well as the rest of the city and far-flung parts of the globe.

Some of these stalwart men and women who rushed to the rescue within minutes after the Twin Towers were assaulted by terrorists Sept. 11 now are among the missing.

In Maspeth the Fire Department's Hazardous Materials 1 unit and Squad 288 were faced with the unthinkable loss of 19 members, while in Woodside Rescue 4 said seven of its firefighters at the scene had not been found.

But there were also people from Queens who came back to tell stories of courageous acts and uncommon bravery at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, where it is feared more than 5,000 lost their lives.

Marcus Neblett, a 31-year-old consultant from Hollis who worked on the 98th floor of Tower Two, has not returned home. Nor has Frank Munoz, a 29-year-old Flushing resident employed in technical support at Marsh USA on the 97th floor of Tower One.

Vigils were held across the borough as Queens mourned its victims as well as its loss of innocence, but the county's indomitable spirit burned strong in the candles lighted by residents along the streets and flew in the flags draping homes as well as businesses.

Life resumed some of its normal beat as children returned to classes and the Queens' two airports reopened. The primary for mayor and other city offices, which had been underway when the terrorists struck, was rescheduled for Sept. 25.

But reminders that America had changed were evident in security checks at Queens bridges and in the bomb threats that disrupted classes, subway lines and Long Island Rail Road riders.

And in Queens, the nation's most ethnically diverse county, Muslims and even Sikhs were targeted in suspected bias incidents by intolerant people angered that Arab terrorists had carried out the assault on the Twin Towers.

But the best of Queens carried the day. Impromptu charity events such as car washes to raise money for victims' families cropped up across the borough. Long Island City opened its doors to the New York Board of Trade, which became the first major exchange to resume trading after losing its home in the World Trade Center.

The Mets turned Shea Stadium into a relief center for the volunteer firefighters and rescue workers pouring in from around the nation.

The message was clear from Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, who told a memorial service at Borough Hall:

“Though we may mourn … we will prevail.”