By Bill Parry

Residents of a neighborhood that straddles the Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst border came together Saturday to honor three of their own who perished at the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks. They were joined by elected officials, police officers, firefighters and a motorcycle club for the unveiling and dedication of a Fallen Heroes Mural nearly 14 years later.

“This is something the community wanted to do for several years,” state Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst) said. “This mural is a way for us as a community to remember those whose lives were senselessly taken away too soon.”

He added that the project was community funded, designed by professionals but painted by area students.

The outside wall of a neighborhood institution, Nick’s Deli, on the corner of 78th Street and 25th Avenue now bears the tribute to Marcello Matricciano, Edward Lehman and James Cartier who all worked in the Twin Towers.

“We asked Rose and Anthony and they said you can have the whole wall,” DenDekker said.

Rosalie and Nicholas DiGiovanni opened the delicatessen in 1960 and they watched generations of neighborhood kids grow into adulthood, including the three who grace their wall. “For me this whole neighborhood is my extended family,” Rosalie said.

After Nick passed away in 1985, their son Anthony stepped in to help run the deli and he’s been there ever since. “This neighborhood is such a special place that produced so many good kids,” he said. “James Cartier was a big part of this store. He always hung out here because his best friend worked for us.”

Cartier’s big brother John rode to the ceremony with a dozen members of his motorcycle club American Brotherhood, a group founded after the attacks to honor all those who died on September 11.

A union electrician and welder, like his little brother, John Cartier made a heartfelt speech to his neighbors.

“I spent eight months on the pile looking for my brother James,” he said. “Your generosity has brought them honor. There are three names here, but we don’t forget everyone who died in New York, that field in Pennsylvania or the Pentagon.”

He remembered his brother as a handsome single man of 26 who loved his job at the World Trade Center.

“We had this talk a week before the attacks and he told me how happy he was to work there,” Cartier said. “He would finish at 2:30 every day but wait around until 5:30 so he could meet all of the beautiful women who were getting out of work.”

Edward Lehman’s sister Dorothy told the crowd she remembered a smart and funny man who died a hero.

“The last sight anyone had of him was him running back into the building to make sure all of his co-workers had gotten off the floor,” she said.

Marcello Matricciano’s mother Mirella spoke of the little boy who grew up at 75th Street and 30th Avenue.

“Everytime I pass by I’ll remember my son with fond memories,” she said.

DenDekker gave thanks to Donna Raymond, of the Northern Queens Homeowners Association, for doing most of the fund-raising for the project.

“It might be 14 years later, but that doesn’t lessen any of the emotions,” she said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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