Ten years ago, the world changed forever. It has been a decade since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and over that decade, everything—everything in the world as we know it—has been affected by the events of that day. For every day of the last 10 years, and for every day for the rest of our lives—and the lives of our children, and our children’s children—every moment is a post-9/11 moment; everything must be viewed and understood and touched, somehow, by 9/11. Of course, we live our lives, we grow, we move on, to the extent we are able to do so. For some of us, that is easier than others. For some of us, those scars are always visible—for some of us, they never heal. But now, 10 years later, we take this moment to pause and reflect, and here, we offer 10 stories from 10 different perspectives. This is just tiny handful of the infinite number of stories out there. This is just a glimpse of the post-9/11 world.
THE LOST: A Snapshot of the Many Lives Lost on Long Island
Of the nearly 500 Long Islanders lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, there are countless stories of the heartache that persists a decade later. From newlyweds just starting families to those in their prime and even some grandparents. Wall Street professionals. Firefighters. Police. EMTs. Mothers-to-be whose unborn children died along with them.
Those from Nassau and Suffolk counties made up about 17 percent of the nearly 3,000 killed in the World Trade Center, Pentagon and in a hijacked airliner crash in Shanksville, Pa. The oldest Long Islander was 68-year-old Ann McGovern of East Meadow, a claims analyst with Aon Corp. The youngest was 21-year-old Peter O’Neill Jr. of Amityville, a bond trader trainee at Sandler O’Neill & Partners. Both worked in Tower Two.
Those left behind are fighting to make sure the lost are not forgotten, often by forming charities in their loved ones’ names.
“I’ve committed the past 10 years to ensuring that the stories of September 11th are kept alive,” said Lee Ielpi, a retired FDNY firefighter from Great Neck who became president of the September 11th Families’ Association, a support group for victims’ families.
His 29-year-old son, Jonathan, who followed in his father’s footsteps and became a firefighter, died in the World Trade Center’s collapse, leaving behind his wife and two young sons. His brother, also a firefighter, was off that Tuesday.
“I strongly believe we need to teach young people everywhere about all aspects of 9/11,” Ielpi said, noting the unified spirit and outpouring of kindness from strangers that followed the attacks.
Although quantifying and comparing grief is an impossible task, among the most profound stories of those lost from LI is that of the Vigiano brothers. FDNY firefighter John Vigiano II, 36, of West Islip, and his 34-year-old brother, Joseph, of Medford, a member of the NYPD’s elite emergency services unit, were among the 411 first responders killed in the line of duty.
Both left behind wives and five young children between them. Their parents had no other children.
Their father, John Vigiano, a 73-year-old retired fire captain from Deer Park, was too distraught to talk when contacted by the Press as the 10th anniversary of the attacks approaches. He told The New York Times while waiting for John’s remains to be found in the rubble: “You know what closure is? When they bury me. Then I’ll forget.”
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