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West Queens plans vigils to remember 9/11

By Dustin Brown

Five days after Sept. 11, more than 5,000 people came together in the lower ballfields of Juniper Valley Park bearing candles and American flags to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks.

As the flickering lights illuminated people’s hands and faces, smoke continued to rise from the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center, which had been visible on the park’s horizon.

The community now plans to reassemble in the same spot, on the same day — the Sunday following Sept. 11 — in a continued display of solidarity one year later.

“This was something that hit us terribly,” said Kathy Pellegrino of Middle Village, who organized both vigils. “Everybody says, ‘We will never forget, we will never forget.’ And I hope people really stand by that when they say that.”

The vigil in Middle Village, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Sept. 15, is one of many ceremonies and events in western Queens planned to commemorate the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Last year thousands marched from Juniper Valley Park to the Maspeth firehouse for Squad 288 and HazMat 1, which lost 19 men in the collapse of the Twin Towers.

The spot where they stood, Maspeth Memorial Park at Grand Avenue and 69th Street, will be marked with a new plaque to join the war memorial that is already there.

The World Trade Center Memorial will be dedicated Saturday, Sept. 7, at 3 p.m., in a ceremony led by the United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth.

“As we have many times over this difficult past year, Maspeth is once again pulling together, now led by our veterans and fraternal organizations, to honor and pay tribute to our fallen with a permanent, enduring memorial in the heart of our community,” said state Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth), who secured a $9,000 grant to fund the plaque.

The American Day Parade in Glendale will kick off at noon on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 65th Street and Myrtle Avenue and end at Victory Field on Woodhaven Boulevard and Myrtle.

Conceived in memory of Sept. 11, the parade is meant to celebrate patriotism and national unity.

“We decided on American Day because this way everybody marches,” said Ed Walter, one of the parade’s organizers. “St. Patrick’s Day you get all the Irish are marching, Columbus Day all the Italians. Let’s get it together one day.”

On Sunday, Sept. 8, at 8 p.m., a candlelight vigil in Astoria Park is being sponsored by state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and the United Community Civic Association. Farenga and Sons Funeral Home will provide candles for all participants in the vigil, which will feature musical performances and prayers of various denominations.

“I feel very strongly in that we have a moral obligation to always remember them and how unjustly they were sacrificed on the altar of terrorism,” said Rose Marie Poveromo, the president of the civic. “It’s a moment for us all to reflect on how tragedy can knock on any of our doors when we least expect it.”

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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