Written by Harry Loud Friday, 22 April 2011 00:00
The 40’x 60’ Patriot Flag, the dream of San Diego firefighter Mitch Mendler to promote his “World Memorial” proudly flew this past Saturday, April 2 opposite Wantagh Fire Department Station 1 on Park Avenue.
The flag visited the area thanks to the efforts of Wantagh Commissioner Craig Craft who had met Mendler previously and felt that it would be appropriate to honor the five New York firefighters (Levittown Chief of Department Ron Kerwin, Merrick Ex-Chief Ronnie Gies, Bellmore Lieutenant Kevin Prior, Bellmore Firefighter Adam Rand, and Wantagh Firefighter Lee Fehling,) who perished on September 11.
Led by a Color Guard and the Nassau County Firefighters Pipe Band the procession of family members, friends and firefighters began their march at Wantagh High School and proceeded down Wantagh Avenue to the Town of Hempstead parking lot opposite the firehouse.
The ceremony began with the “Pledge of Allegiance” led by 9-year-old Megan Fehling whose dad, Lee, was a member of Wantagh’s Ladder 1.
Megan was born shortly after her father’s death. This was followed by the National Anthem sung by Wantagh High School choral student Maggie Tigue.
County Executive Ed Mangano, Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, Assemblyman Dave McDonough, Legislature Dennis Dunne and County Comtroller George Maragos all spoke of that fateful day. As the pipe band played Amazing Grace, the flag was lowered and folded. New York Fire Captain John Viola, Wantagh Firefighter Erick Paine and New York Police Officers George Krant and Bill Stevens escorted the folded flag to the accompanying trailer as Tom Cieslewicz played Taps.