Residents of the tight-knit Reeves Park community came together as the sun set Tuesday evening to remember fallen New York City firefighter Tommy Kelly as a neighbor, friend, brother and son.
A Brooklyn firefighter, he was killed responding to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers.
The group gathered with candles lit at the corner of Marine Street and Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive/Park Road, where Tommy lived at the time of his death. He died in the south tower of the World Trade Center.
As the vigil proceeded with an escort of Riverhead volunteer firefighters the Reliable Engine firetruck, Tom Kelly’s parents, Emmet, a retired member of the FDNY, and Sue sat side by side in wheelchairs, with blankets across their laps to guard against the evening chill.
They were waiting for the procession next to the memorial to their son at the corner of Sound Avenue and Park Road/Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive.
The Kelly family started the day attending a mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Park Slope Brooklyn, where Tom Kelly’s Engine Co. 219 and Ladder Co. 105 firehouse is located.
Before the vigil, Tom’s brother, Bob Kelly, told a reporter it was “good to see that the community comes together for this and that they haven’t forgotten.”
Sound Park Heights president Eric Biegler addressed the community: “It was a monumental event that has shaped a generation; 11 years is a long time. Some of us have forgotten as life goes on. We forget to take time to sit and reflect.”
He reminded all that “coming together as a community, friends and family, we have not forgotten the heroes. We will never forget.”
Bob Kelly said he hopes a planned 9/11 memorial park to honor his brother’s memory will happen within the next year, and that it will become a memorial for all those who died on that day, as well as the families, loved ones and those who got sick and died.
The memorial is planned for property at the corner of Sound Avenue and Park Road/Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive that has been slated for development. Suffolk County government has taken steps to purchase the land for preservation.
“It is going to be something really special,” he said. “Hopefully next year.”
Tom’s sister, Jeanne Farrell of Rockville Center, also spoke at the event.
“On behalf of our family thank you all for coming out and helping us remember this 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks,” she said. “We traditionally end our day here in Reeves Park. It is fitting to us because this is where Tommy began and ended each of his days.
“We are all very lucky to have this place, this paradise to come to.”
She then read this prayer:
May all of us remember with compassion this day.
Mat we grieve with those who still continue to grieve
And morn with those who still morn.
And continue to share memories with those who will never forget
And draw strength from the brave men and women who were the heroes of that day. And who gave their lives for others.
May we stand together with our strangers who that day became our friends.
May we remember always their love,kindness , and compassion and generosity.
Above all may we stand together as one and Never Forget!