By Sean Keane ’23
Time and time again, New Yorkers have promised to “never forget” the events of September 11, 2001. As part of this pledge, many firehouses, village halls, and memorial sites around the New York City area have displayed pieces of structural metal from the wreckage of the Twin Towers. While these structures are meant to honor the fallen of 9/11, they also have the potential to bring back painful memories. So the question becomes: what do we do with them?
Steven Giammona ‘20 is one person who took action by finding a way to properly honor the lives lost. In high school, Giammona was an active member of the Chaminade community and could often be found in the pool as a member of the varsity swim team or at work in the ETV studio.
Outside of school, he was also an active member of Boy Scout Troop 134. Giammona advanced through the ranks with the end goal of becoming an Eagle Scout. When the time came to do his Eagle Project, he wanted to pick something meaningful for himself, his family, and his community. He saw the need to renovate the September 11th memorial site in his hometown of Stewart Manor, and he began working to display a piece of Twin Towers metal and refurbish the fire department’s flagpole.
This project was deeply personal and meaningful to Giammona and his family. His uncle, Captain Vincent F. Giammona of FDNY Ladder 5, was at the World Trade Center on 9/11. He heroically answered the call to serve, running towards the towers when others were running away; unfortunately, he did not make it home that day. Giammona was not born when his uncle made the ultimate sacrifice, but he knew that his project would be meaningful to his father and all those who lost a loved one on that day.
Tom Breslin ’89, a lieutenant in the FDNY and Committee Chairman of Troop 134, remarked, “I am honored to have worked with a talented young man such as Steven Giammona, and I am also honored to be in the same fire company where his uncle, Captain Vincent Giammona, worked. I am currently a lieutenant at Ladder 5 and a proud graduate of Chaminade, class of 1989. It is no coincidence that my fire officer union’s motto is ‘Fortes in Unitate.’”
In addition to renovating the fire department’s existing memorial, Giammona sent a letter to every resident in his village and asked if they would write something to be engraved on a memorial stone paver. These pavers were then placed around the flagpole, the metal from the towers, and the two benches.
By selling these pavers at a $100 each, Giammona was able to raise over $10,000 for his project.
Lieutenant Breslin offered insight about the impact that these personalized pavers had on the community, saying, “Steven was able to incorporate the entire Village of Stewart Manor and surrounding neighborhoods through his fundraising efforts….Many were from residents who just wanted to show their patriotism, while others remembered specific people who perished on that tragic day. One person who was memorialized was Wells Crowler, who saved over 80 people on September 11, 2001. Wells made the supreme sacrifice. He was a college roommate and friend to a resident. The paving stones bring a clean look to the area around Village Hall, and the benches give residents and visitors a place to reflect on those who helped so many.”
After working hard on this project, Giammona unveiled the newly redone memorial on the corner of Covert and Chester Avenues. The memorial was dedicated on September 11, 2018, with over 100 people in attendance.
Mayor Michael Onorato of Stewart Manor commented on Giammona’s hard work, stating, “Steven has exemplified everything that we desire our youth to represent growing up in our Stewart Manor community. During the construction of the project, he not only managed the many challenges to meet the expected completion date, but was able to do this with poise, integrity and respect for all those that he worked with. It gives us all great pride and satisfaction to see how well Steven will grow to be a future leader of tomorrow.”
This year, on the 20th anniversary of the attacks on our nation, the village of Stewart Manor held a special ceremony at the 9/11 memorial. The mayor of the Village of Stewart Manor and the Stewart Manor Fire Department chief both spoke, as well as Giammona himself. The Stewart Manor Fire Department and Boy Scout Troop 134 were also in attendance. Christian Grossarth ’23 played “Taps” at the lowering of the flag, while bagpipes opened and closed the ceremony. Troop 134 also helped with distributing flags and candles for the ceremony.
“Although I was born one month after 9/11,” Giammona explains, “I learned that in the days and months following September 11th that it was not only heroes helping people, but also people helping people. When the situation was dire, regular people from all walks of life came together to help their fellow man. The takeaway younger generations should have is that anyone can rise above and be a hero…communities can come together and be true neighbors.”