Some to Honor 9/11 Victims On Holiday

Copyright 2002 Newsday, Inc.
Newsday (New York, NY)...05/26/2002

By Joshua Robin; STAFF WRITER

Many more people will be remembered in New York City this Memorial Day: the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center, who, while not soldiers, are considered by some to be casualties of war.

"It's going to take on a whole new meaning, Memorial Day," said Sean Corrigan, who will be speaking at an interfaith service in Douglaston on tomorrow about his father, James. James Corrigan, a veteran of the U.S. military and a retired city firefighter, was killed Sept. 11 while helping members of the FDNY.

"I hope people have a deeper sense of the importance of the people that are serving and protecting us - not just with regards to the military," said Corrigan, 26, of Bay Ridge, who will speak at St. Anastasia's Roman Catholic Church at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The speech will precede the annual Little Neck-Douglaston parade, which begins at 2 p.m. and vies with another parade in Chicago for being the nation's largest on Memorial Day.

Both will coincide with several other parades and patriotic events around the region over the weekend - including a ceremony at 11 a.m. tomorrow on the deck of Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum that is part of the 15th annual Fleet Week.

The federal government has also asked for a moment of silence at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

No Memorial Day ceremony is planned for Ground Zero. But many eyes will be focused on nearby Battery Park, where at 2 p.m. tomorrow, a New York City cop and firefighter will accept an American flag that has been carried across the country since Jan. 1. It will be presented by a firefighter from Portland, Ore. where the flag relay began.

Original plans to hand over the flag at the Statue of Liberty were scrapped when New York authorities said they were nervous about safety threats, said Elle Milner, of Portland, Ore., the coordinator of the flag relay, which is called "The Patriot Line."

Speaking in an interview from Lawrence Township, N.J., where she was making her way to New York with the flag, Milner said that while Memorial Day has origins in remembering soldiers from the Civil War, and has grown to include tributes to the fallen from other wars, Sept. 11 was also a battle.

"I think that this was the first day of this war," said Milner, 32, of the date. Speaking of rescue workers who died in the attack, Milner added: "Even if they weren't military personnel, they gave their life for their country."

One former soldier, who lost several friends in Vietnam, said he hoped Memorial Day wouldn't always be considered a day to recall those who died Sept. 11.

Robert Durham, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War and worked for weeks at Ground Zero for the Salvation Army, called the World Trade Center assault "a different kind of war."

"I think that they should be separated," Durham, 51, said of tributes to fallen soldiers and Sept. 11 victims. Those lost on Sept. 11 "should be honored and given all the glory in the world," he said, "but not with veterans."

But Mike Cartier, who lost his brother James, an electrician from Jackson Heights in the World Trade Center, said there should be no distinction between those who died.

"You look at what happened with Pearl Harbor, and that launched us into World War II. This attack launched us into a different kind of war," Cartier said. Cartier, who said he thinks about his brother everyday, will spend Memorial Day with his mother.

"Some might say that Pearl Harbor was an attack on our military," he added. "This was an attack on the American heart, which is its people."'It's going to take on a whole new meaning, Memorial Day.'

- Sean Corrigan