The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey along with the JFK Chamber of Commerce unveiled a 9/11 memorial monument at JFK Port Authority Building 14 in Jamaica on Friday morning.
During the ceremony officials dedicated the new structure — composed of a hunk of Twin Towers steel and several plaques printed with the names of the two flights that were hijacked — to Port Authority members who died during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We gather and stand as a unified people with a common vision and purpose to honor our relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues — heroes all — who sacrificed their lives or were injured in the attacks of September 11th or because of them in the 20 years since,” said Charles Everett, deputy director of aviation at JFK Airport.
The effort to create the memorial started about five years ago when the chamber was there to take on a challenge to develop a permanent memorial. Joe Clabby, who was president with the chamber at the time, took on the challenge.
The idea for the monument started with a piece of the Twin Towers as a centerpiece of the monument and developed with a donation from U.S. Customs Columbia Association President Phil Maddalena. The Port Authority’s Edward Vinciguerra executed the monument with the help of his team.
The ceremony involved remarks reflecting on the tragedy of 9/11 from a series of electeds, servicemembers and religious leaders of several different faiths.
Several airline workers then read off the names of the American Airlines crew members from flights 11 and 77 who died in the attacks. Flight 11 hit Tower One of the World Trade Center and Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.
The other hijacked planes were United Flight 175, which hit the South Tower, and United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers took on the terrorists aboard.
A retired Port Authority Police Department lieutenant, Dan Capanaro, then read the names of the agency’s 37 members who died in the attacks. The department had the greatest loss of any police agency at one event in the history of the U.S. law enforcement, according to Capanaro.
“It should be also should be noted that many unherald civilian individuals should be labeled as heroes for all of the deeds and rescue attempts and aid that they gave to their fellow co-workers,” Capanaro added.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards took the occasion to call for New York City to unify as it remembers the attacks, overcoming polarized political differences and other division.
“We have to love one another as we honor the legacy of those who have gone on. I will end by saying we are challenged with climate change. We are challenged with Covid-19. We are challenged with a labor shortage and infrastructure needs. So our work is not done. We have to carry on,” said Richards.
Frank DiMola, director of Terminal Four Airline Consortium, closed the ceremony by telling the story of his experience on the 65th floor of the North Tower the morning of the attacks. He made his way down the tower’s stairs, led through the smoke and dust, by the lanterns of New York City servicemembers.
After he walked out of the lobby through a broken window, DiMola recalled, “a firefighter ran up to me and yelled ‘Run!’ and I did run up the West Side Highway and minutes later, One World Trade Center came down. My family and I are very much aware that I would not be here today had it not been from the bravery and selfless acts of courage, the men and women of the New York City Police and Fire Department and the Port Authority Police who saved my life.”