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9/11 Memorial Service Honors Thomas Kelly

A heartfelt memorial service celebrated the 9/11 hero's life.

They have never forgotten.

Carrying candles in the fading light, a small group of family, friends, and neighbors gathered quietly at the corner of Sound Avenue and Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive/Park Road in Riverhead on Tuesday evening, just as they have since 9/11, to pay tribute to a local hero -- one of their own, who died trying to save the lives of others at the World Trade Center.

Thomas Kelly, who lived in Riverhead full-time,one of seven members of Engine 219, Ladder 105 who after the terrorist attacks. He was 38 years old.

Spending summers by the y has long had roots deeply entrenched in the Reeves Park community in Riverhead, where their parents, Emmet Kelly and his wife Sue, now live. 

"This is home," said , Thomas Kelly's brother, as he spoke to the friends and neighbors gathered in remembrance. "All of Tommy's best days were spent here."

Looking at the friends who stood somberly on the darkening street, Kelly said quietly, "Reeves Park has not forgotten."

On Tuesday evening, at the end of a day which had dawned with bright blue skies reminscent of 9/11, Eric Biegler, president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association in Reeves Park, reflected, "On a day much like this one 11 years ago, the world as we knew it was changed." The attacks, he said, shaped a generation.

"Eleven years is a long time," Biegler said. "So many have passed; others have been born. We are here to assure you that we have not forgotten that day -- the heroes, and the victims. We will never forget."

Thomas Kelly's sister Jeanne thanked neighbors and elected officials for attending. "This is a fitting way to end this day," she said.

Bob Kelly also thanked the Riverhead Fire Department for attending and thanked Riverhead Town officials "for getting behind the 9/11 memorial." 

Kelly and others have been working for over 10 years to createk at the site. "Our hope is that in the near future, we have a groundbreaking here. Hopefully, by next year," he said, the long-held dream of a 9/11 memorial park will be a reality.

The park, Kelly said, will be a quiet place for reflection and meditation, open for  -- and to pay tribute, too, to those rescue workers at Ground Zero who have become sick and died in the years since 9/11. 

Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio attended the service, as did Councilman John Dunleavy. "I think it's wonderful that the Town of Riverhead has such passionate people who come together on a day of mourning so that we never forget those who lost their lives," Giglio said. "We keep them in our hearts."

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