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South Country Marks 20th Anniversary of 9/11

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On the morning of Sept. 10, students at Bellport High School in the South Country Central School District listened intently as a panel of speakers somberly shared their memories during a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11.

Among those who took the podium were Erika Della Rosa, Bellport High School principal; Gregory C. Miglino Jr., chief of the South Country Ambulance Company; David DiDio, first assistant of the Bellport Fire Department and former member of the New York City Fire Department; and Joseph Alt, retired New York City police officer and teaching assistant at Bellport High School.

Della Rosa spoke about her brother, who was deployed as a Navy SEAL shortly after Sept. 11. She discussed the role he played in protecting America’s freedoms and the bravery of all the men and women who fought for the nation.

During Miglino’s address, he recalled the sense of community that developed amid the tragedy and how members of the South Country Ambulance Company were willing to stop what they were doing to assist at Ground Zero. He also reminded students to never forget those who had perished. “We have a task that we must not fail,” he said. “We must make sure future generations understand the sacrifices that were made.”

In his speech, DiDio conveyed to students the sights he witnessed when he arrived at Ground Zero on Sept. 11 as a member of the New York City Fire Department. He spoke of the sheer destruction of the Twin Towers and the work that went into the search efforts and cleanup. When not working, he recalled, he would attend the funerals of many of the fallen first responders.

Alt reflected on arriving in New York City on the morning of Sept. 11 as an active New York City police officer. He explained that because of an imminent fear of further attacks, officers were sent to guard important structures. He was stationed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before being charged to search for potential bombs near Ground Zero, a site that he said resembled a futuristic horror film. He reminded students to live each day to its fullest because it could be snatched away in an instant.

The ceremony also featured an emotional recorded song by James Leskowicz, a Brookhaven Fire Department member. The song, titled “Song to a Friend,” recounted the events on that fateful day 20 years ago.

Culminating the ceremony was the dedication of a tree in the school’s Veterans Courtyard to Corporal James E. Lundin, a Bellport High School alumnus. Lundin was killed in action in Balad, Iraq, on May 30, 2007, at the age of 20. He was a member of the U.S. Army 2nd Brigade Combat Team. During the moving dedication, each student in attendance stood to lay a flower under the dedicated tree.

The ceremony concluded with a reflection and prayer by Bishop Bullock of the New Bethel First Pentecostal Church in Bellport.

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