Sept. 11 is a time of reflection, of remembering lives cut tragically short on a day that left a heartbroken nation forever changed.
But despite the overwhelming loss and despair, the 11 years since have been colored with the courage of survivors who have found the inner strength to persevere. Despite a loss of innocence, 9/11 has given birth to a sea of patriotism and an outpouring of volunteerism that shows the best of what America can be.
On this 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, Southampton Patch would like to take a moment and share some of the local stories that have touched our lives.
To this day, Southampton Elementary School teacher Vicki Tureski continuously wears a bracelet bearing her late brother-in-law’s name, Steve Pollicino, and the initials WTC.
“I never take mine off,” she said at her Tuckahoe Woods home.
The sterling silver band was a gift from the company he had worked for, Cantor Fitzgerald, where he was a bond broker on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center. He was among 658 Cantor Fitzgerald employees who perished during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
She had known Pollicino for 30 years when he died — she and her twin sister, Jane, who would eventually become his wife, met him in a Nassau Community College biology class when they were 17. “Being twins, he knew we came as a package deal,” Tureski said.
Pollicino survived the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, and Tureski said she held out hope on 9/11 that he would walk out of Tower One safely again.
On a television in the school principal’s office, she watched the smoke and flames billowing out of the towers and as Tower One fell. That image was the last thing she saw when she went to bed and the first thing she saw when she woke up for more than a year. “The pain is the same as if it happened yesterday,” she said. It’s her children and her students who have kept her going since, she said.
One and a half years ago, Southampton resident Lorelei Galardi lost her sister to lung disease, which she believes was directly related to the six months her sister, Joann Galardi, spent volunteering at Ground Zero with the Red Cross after 9/11.
“Her lungs were just a mess,” Galardi said. “She was on a ventilator for two months.” Garlardi herself had moved out of New York City to Orlando just two weeks before the terrorist attacks. She lived in downtown Brooklyn and worked in Manhattan, where she could see the Twin Towers from her office building.
“I was talking to the people I used to work with,” she said of the day of 9/11. “They were in my old office crying.”
Every time jeweler Jill Lynn Brody of Southampton takes her weekly buying trip to the Diamond District in Manhattan, the prospect of a terrorist attack is on her mind.
She’s even been present for bomb scares. “There’s been multiple times I’ve been on 47th when they closed down the block,” she said.
On Sept. 11, 2001, she was far from the city, working as a baker at Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten’s old shop in East Hampton. She learned of the terrorist attacks when someone came into the store hysterically crying and saying a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. The employees closed the doors to the store after that and spent the next few hours listening to the news on the radio.
“I was watching TV and I didn’t believe it,” Sue Madonia said, recalling how she first learned about the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
She sat there dazed, in a state of shock. Having grown up in Garden City, “a stock broker town,” she knew several people who died in the Twin Towers that day, including her best friend’s husband. Other friends in the city witnessed the destruction first hand. She didn’t let the attack trip her up. The next day, she flew to Argentina, as planned. “I was the only one on the plane,” she said. She has a home in Southampton, where she runs Ann Madonia Antiques with her mother, as well as Manhattan.
Though several friends decided to move out of the city after 9/11, she remains, refusing to let 9/11 to keep her away. “I’m a true New Yorker. I got back out. I love the city, and try to be strong and carry on,” she said, though she admitted, “Subconsciously, you do carry it with you.”
“I was in college and I remember being woken up by someone running down the hall,” recalled Southampton native and East Quogue resident , now 30 years old.
Everyone in the dorm at Marist College in Poughkeepsie was glued to the television watching the Twin Towers, and classes were canceled.
Wright, a junior at the time, said initially they thought it was just a major accident, and it didn’t become clear until later that the plane crash was a terrorist attack.
“I did have family who lived and worked in the city,” he said. Though they weren’t close to the site, he worried about them and couldn’t get in touch because phones were down. Others in his dorm had family working at the World Trade Center that day.
On Sept. 11, 2011, Southampton remembered the men and women who lost their lives 10 years earlier in a memorial ceremony held at the Southampton Fire Department's new substation on Hampton Road.
Watch the featured video to listen to Chief Rodney "Chip" Pierson, talk about the memorial.
For Southampton and Sag Harbor residents who lost loved ones on 9/11, the news of terrorist Osama bin Laden’s death prompted reflection on the nearly decade-old tragedy and the holes it left in their lives.
In Southampton, Ellen Danz, lost her son, Police Officer Vincent Danz, 38, a Southampton resident who served in the Special Operations Division for the New York City Police Department Emergency Services Unit.
Danz’s memorial service was the first of scores of heartbreaking tributes for fallen officers. Danz died inside the Twin Towers, struggling valiantly to save lives.
Dusk set in as Kathy Ugalde, of Deer Park, watched her 5-year-old son place an American flag at her father’s engraved name at the Suffolk County 9/11 memorial monument Thursday evening as she and 400 others honored the loved ones they lost a decade ago.
“They never knew him,” she said of her three children who were all born after their grandfather was killed.
If her children had known their grandfather, they would have learned that Battalion Chief Ray Downey, 63, was the FDNY's most decorated member. He had been in the department for 39 years and was head of the elite special operations command, according to the family's website for a memorial charity scholarship created after 9/11. During his career he guided a rescue team to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing site and aided in hurricane rescue efforts in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
His life was cut short as he attempted to rescue others from within the Twin Towers on Sept. 11.