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Massapequa Unites for 9-11 Anniversary Vigil

Remembering Fallen Heroes In A Stirring Ceremony

All over Nassau County and the rest of the United States, vigils and ceremonies were held last Sunday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Every village on Long Island has its own unique and melancholy story to tell, and the day was an emotional one in Massapequa as the village remembered the losses of its finest and bravest sons.

Up to 18 natives or residents of Massapequa lost their lives on Sept. 11. As the village has long been home to members of both the New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department, the losses included heroes from both of those institutions. Among those participating at the vigil were the children of NYPD Sgt. Timothy Roy who lit a candle in remembrance of their father and all the police officers lost on 9-11.

The vigil, which was attended by up to 400 people, also included military units, police and fire department members, and numerous local dignitaries, including Village of Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna and other members of the Board of Trustees: Deputy Mayor Jeff Pravato, Teresa Spinosa, Harry Jacobson, and Tina Schiaffino, plus State Senator Charles Fuschillo, Nassau County Legislator and Presiding Officer Peter J. Schmitt, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, and TOB Councilman Joseph Pinto.

The evening began with a bagpipe procession featuring the music of Scott Gajdos, followed by a Marine Corps color guard and members of a local VFW.

The program featured the Pledge of Allegiance recited by Deputy Mayor Pravato, with the National Anthem being sung by Massaspequa resident Randi Kopp. Father Ken Zach of St. Rose of Lima Parish offered an invocation.

After remarks by Mayor Altadonna, a candle lighting ceremony took place, accompanied by the reading of the names of the deceased.

That was followed by volley salute by a Marine rifle squad and a rendition of Taps. Later, a member of a local Girl Scout troop, Alison Latini, and a local Boy Scout troop, Jason Arnold, both read tributes to the day’s events.

The bagpipe player returned for a rendition of Amazing Grace. Ms. Kopp closed the ceremonies with her version of American the Beautiful.

“It’s always a day of remembrance,” said Mayor Altadonna of last Sunday’s vigil and his feeling about every anniversary. “It’s especially moving when you see the children and wives [of the victims.] You watch them grow up and it tugs at your heart to know the sacrifices their father’s made and that they will never see their children. It was a very somber day.”

The men of Massapequa who lost their lives on Sept. 11 were: George Cain, James J. Carson, Jr., Peter J. Ganci, Jr., Geoffrey Guja, Michael Healey, Thomas Haskell, Jr., Ronald Hoerner, Michael Iken, Anthony Jovic, Lester V. Marino, Henry Miller, Jr., Michael O’Brien, Michael Pascuma, Timothy Alan Roy, Sr., Frank G. Schott, Christopher R. Sullivan, David Wiswall, and Andrew Zucker. On July 15, 2011, Massapequa resident and FDNY member Steven C. Mosiello died of esophageal cancer. On Sept. 11, 2001, Mosiello was at the World Trade Center, serving as an aide to fellow FDNY member, Peter J. Ganci, Jr. Ganci himself was chief of department, the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the FDNY. After his death, he was the subject of a well-received book, Chief: The Life of Peter J. Ganci, A New York City Firefighter, written by his son, Chris, also a member of the FDNY.

Geoffrey Guja, whose name was omitted in the Sept. 16 story in The Massapequan Observer on the victims of Sept. 11, was a graduate of Berner High School and a lieutenant in the FDNY, stationed at Battalion 43 in Brooklyn. On the day of the terrorist attacks, he took the subway from Brooklyn with another lieutenant to take part in rescue operations. He left behind a wife and two stepdaughters.