For Bayside husband and wife Bill Pizzo and Sandra Coccaro, 9/11 is still a tragedy they cannot believe happened. “To this day it seems unreal,” Coccaro said. “I don’t think you really can wrap your head around it.”
That morning, they had voted in the city primary and heard about the first crash on the news. Like many others who learned of the first crash, they thought it was just an accident. When the second plane hit, they knew something was up.
“It makes me sad and angry,” Pizzo said.
“I wish I was there to help. It’s all mixed emotions.”
Pizzo and Coccaro, along with dozens of others, came out last Wednesday night to once again pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice 12 years ago. The ceremony was held at the 9/11 Memorial in Bayside at Bell Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway.
Michael Feiner, president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association, opened the somber remembrance by reminding the crowd to never forget what happened that day.
“We must always remember what a tragic blow to our country we had to endure the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 at the hands of individuals who were under unadulterated evil,” he said.
Feiner added that 9/11 will “remain vivid in our minds like no other event in American history.”
Monsignor Martin Geraghty of Saint Robert Bellarmine Parish read the solemn opening benediction. “We pray for justice. We pray for healing of the wounds of the human heart. We pray for all those who are mourning in a special way today,” Geraghty said. “This is a moment for us as a community to reaffirm who we really are.”
The civic association has planted a garden along two metal beams that were a part of one of the twin towers. There is an inscription to honor those who died.
Brothers Ronald and Richard Keil, who operate a garden center and nursery in Bayside, helped plant the garden at the memorial.
“The two trees represent the twin towers. It is just a memorial for all those who gave their lives on 9/11,” Ron Keil said.
He and his brother have been coming since the first memorial and with every passing year they say it doesn’t get any less emotional. “It’s a very sad and sobering day. It’s so wonderful to see the support the community has,” Richard Keil said.
After the speeches were made, attendees were asked to light candles and plant them along with their American flags on the memorial ground.
Pizzo and Coccaro say that even though 12 years have passed, the impact of Sept. 11, 2001 hasn’t eased.
“I don’t think it will ever lessen. We just knew too many people that didn’t make it home,” she said, while her husband added: “I think about the people we lost that day.”
It was also the couple’s first time to a Bayside Hills tribute and both said they were left in awe by the outpouring.
“I was just amazed at the turnout and proud of the community supporting this,” Coccaro said.