9/11 Memorial with misspelled names finally fixed

Supervisor George Hoehmann talks about the new Sept. 11 memorial that will be unveiled outside Town Hall on the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks. Video by Seth Harrison/The Journal News

NEW CITY, N.Y. - Clarkstown's memorial to local residents who perished in the Sept. 11 attacks at the World Trade Center has stood in front of Town Hall in New City since 2002.

As they stepped in to aid local families affected by the tragedy, town officials also moved swiftly to erect the monument in time for the first anniversary of the attacks.

But mixed with the sadness and pride evoked by the memorial's two bronze plaques has been a gnawing regret.

One victim's name was misspelled, and a bronze plaque placed over it correcting the error was conspicuous. Nothing could be done to rectify several miscues where "NYFD" was etched along with firefighters' names instead of FDNY.

The errors led to discomfort for some family members and more than a little embarrassment for town officials.

When residents and family members join Clarkstown officials at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at the site to commemorate the attacks' 15th anniversary, they will witness the unveiling of a new memorial that rectifies those errors.

"There were some mistakes that were on the original monument where the names had to be redone," Supervisor George Hoehmann said Thursday at Travis Monuments in Nyack, where the memorial was being completed. "It was kind of catty-corner, small, out of the way, and we felt for the 15th anniversary it was appropriate for us to look at trying to put up a suitable memorial that's going to be there for the next 50 years."

"We had several families that were involved in picking out the design," Hoehmann said, "and they are very excited about it. It's sad for them, bittersweet, but I also think they realize we're doing it right."

The improvements will be evident.

The original monument, which cost $11,500, was made of artificial stone and listed the names of town residents on a plaque on its front, with the names of all the Rockland County residents on its back.

Its replacement is black granite and three times the size of the original. The $33,000 cost is being offset by donations.

The design features a pair of square granite blocks bearing bronze plaques with the names of the victims, separated by a smaller block inscribed with a passage from the Bible's Book of Wisdom:

"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace."

A steel I-beam from the World Trade Center also rests atop the smaller block. The monument is topped by a thin, rectangular granite piece inscribed with the words "We will never forget."

The renamed memorial park gives the monument a more central place. New lighting and twin jets of water symbolizing the Trade Center's towers have been added.

Clarkstown used the Freedom Tower's records in compiling its list of victims' names. The town plaque contains 25 names from the 2001 attacks, as well as recognizing Vanessa Lang Langer's unborn child. She was pregnant at the time.

The plaque displaying 80 names of Rockland victims adds Robert Kirkpatrick's name. Kirkpatrick died in the 1993 attack on the Trade Center.

"I had always wanted to make sure this monument was to the 'T' for the families," said  the Rev. David Lothrop, the police department chaplain who will preside over the ceremony. "That was the only thing on my mind."


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