Despite a steady rain, the 9/11 Memorial Candle Lighting Ceremony at Seaford High School drew its usual large crowd on the evening of Sept. 11, there to honor all those who died in the terrorist attacks 21 years ago. Vowing to “never forget,” it has remained a priority for the community to come together each year on the anniversary to pay tribute to everyone who perished that day including five alumni—Timothy Haskell (Class of 1982), Thomas Haskell (1985), John Perry (1982), Robert Sliwak (1977) and Michael Wittenstein (1985).
Their family members were joined by a crowd well more than 1,000 people, including Seaford administrators, teachers, staff and students as well as community members, firefighters, police officers, scouts, clergy, representatives of local service organizations and elected officials. Umbrellas were up as they listened to master of ceremonies and retired teacher Steve Bongiovi talk about the exemplary character of the five alumni and how Seaford will “always be blessed by the presence of them in our hearts.”
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Adele Pecora, in opening remarks, noted that the ceremony epitomizes “Seaford Pride.” Hundreds of students attended the ceremony, many in their Seaford green sports jerseys. Volunteers from the high school handed out candles, programs and miniature American flags. The high school band performed the National Anthem and the chorus closed out the ceremony leading everyone in “God Bless America.”
Former Congressman Peter King reminded everyone to never forget those who died and to always remember the acts of bravery that took place. Looking out at the large crowd who came out to pay tribute, he said, “even rain can’t stop the Seaford spirit.”
Ken Haskell, brother of Timothy and Thomas and president of the Seaford 9/11 Memorial Committee, said the aftermath of the attacks showed some of the best of humanity and encouraged everyone to put aside their differences to be good citizens, friends and family members. In addition to honoring those who died in the attacks, Mr. Haskell said to also remember those who were killed in the subsequent War on Terror.
The Seaford Patriot Award, presented every year in honor of the five alumni, is given to five students who best exemplify character, commitment and service. Alexandra Leggio and Bryant Wong, two of the recipients from the Class of 2022, presented Dr. Pecora with hundreds of community service pledges from Seaford students.
On Sept. 9, several Seaford High School teachers took their classes out to the memorial in front of the school, with features plaques for each of the five alumni as well as pieces of steel recovered from the World Trade Center. Teachers shared their recollections of the day and discussed the significance of the monument.
—Submitted by the Seaford School District