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Six years after tragedy of Flight 587

They came from near and far to remember loved ones lost on a plane bound for paradise. And for many of the family members and friends of Flight 587 victims their memories remain fresh - even six years later.
Rosanna Batista traveled from Coral Springs, Florida with her three-year-old daughter Darianne Marte to visit the memorial - a circular granite sculpture inscribed with the names of those killed and positioned towards the Dominican Republic.
“Every year, I come,” Batista said, while laying roses in memory of her mother, Daria Soriano, and sister, Noemi Batista. “How can I tell you? It is hard. You never forget.”
Batista said that by bringing her daughter to the memorial site - 15 blocks from where the plane crashed on November 11, 2001 — she hopes to help the girl know the family who died before Daria was born.
“She asks a lot of questions. Who is my [Batista’s] mother? Who is my grandmother?” Batista said of her daughter.
Thania Salazar of Manhattan said that her cousin, Felix Antonio Sanchez, had been traveling to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic on a business trip when the plane crashed at the corner of Beach 131st Street and Newport Avenue.
“We grew up together. He was like a brother,” she said, while clutching a bouquet of red roses. “Just coming here today, it just feels so fresh.”
During the memorial, police officer Joel Lapointe and firefighter James Sorokac tolled a silver bell at 9:17 a.m., the exact moment of the crash, and Rockaway pastor, Monsignor John Brown - followed by relatives - read aloud the names of the 260 plane passengers and five people on the ground, who were killed.
“They were filled with excitement about their trip; many were eagerly looking forward to seeing their native land and their relatives and loved ones there. We know what tragedy befell them instead. And what happened as well to the five residents of Belle Harbor who also perished that terrible day,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told mourners.
“Once again, we have come together to remember all of them, and to share the sorrow that all of us feel,” he said.
Bloomberg said that a number of elected officials had planned to attend the memorial but were instead assisting relief efforts in the Dominican Republic, where 84 people were killed during Tropical Storm Noel earlier this month, and the mayor spoke of those victims.
“We know that our words here will also be heard by those who have lost homes and loved ones an ocean away. So, we say, ‘Nuestros corazones estan con ustedes.’ In Creole, ‘Nou pense avec ou.’ And not only are our thoughts and prayers with you; we also pledge you our continued help,” he said.
Belle Harbor resident Charles Canning and friend Karen Schnibbe also offered up a prayer at the memorial site - the Prayer for the Faithful Departed.
Canning, who was in Belle Harbor at the time of the crash six years ago, the second-deadliest aviation accident in U.S. history, described the day as “devastating, I would say, so soon after 9/11.”
An hour after this year’s event, at the actual crash site, 19-year-old Roberto Jimenez held hands with his family and prayed for Jimenez’s father, Roberto Sr., and 10-month-old brother, Jayke Joseph, both passengers of Flight 587.
Jimenez had traveled from Aruba for the ceremony, and on Monday, November 12, he saw for the first time the granite memorial, designed by Dominican-born sculptor Freddy Rodriguez and inscribed with line by Dominican national poet Pedro Mir, “Despues no quiero mas que paz,” or, “Afterwards I want only peace.”
“It’s very nice,” he said, “but I think it’s better if they put it in the home where things happened.”

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