Under a brilliant blue sky, firefighters from all the departments in Southold marched silently between rows of American flags in Jean Cochran Park in Southold on Friday to honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
The firefighters — men and women, young and old — marched past the tall steel beam retrieved from the wreckage of the World Trade Center that was set in place to honor those who died on 9/11 and also the seven local firemen who have died on duty going back to 1930.
The steel beam, on top of which stands a sculpture of a giant osprey, were the result of the generosity of the late James Miller, who died at age 85 in June. Mr. Miller, who lived in Southold, was the founder of Miller Environmental Group in Calverton who was also known for his generosity to the community.
That generosity was noted by Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, who opened a very solemn proceeding to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11. “As we remember all the victims and heroes we lost on 9/11, we are so fortunate to have this special place to honor them,” said Mr. Russell, as the sun dipped in the western sky and fall temperatures chilled the air.
“This was given to us by James Miller, and this special place will always be here for future generations so that everyone knows what happened on that day,” he added.
C.E. “Ty” Cochran — former Southold police chief and the son of the late supervisor for whom the park is named — told a crowd of about 125 people who came for the ceremony that firefighters and police officers are people who put their lives on the line to help others, no questions asked.
Mr. Cochran is the assistant president of the Southold Town Chief’s Association and an assistant chief in the Southold Fire Department.
“Please remember those who were lost,” he said, adding that the thousands of first responders who have died from 9/11-related illnesses must also be remembered. “Please pray for them,” he said, as he read the names of seven firefighters from the town’s different departments who have died on the job.
The ceremony at the Peconic Lane park was one of many held across Long Island and in New York City to mark the terror attacks on 9/11, which occurred on a clear, blue-sky morning 19 years ago. Several people in attendance as the ceremony began could be heard offering prayers.
An older gentleman, hovered over his cane, whispered, “I hope we never forget what happened that day.”
Exactly 2,977 small American flags were distributed for the ceremony and placed along the path to the monument – one for each of the lives lost that horrific morning in Lower Manhattan.