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Local tributes recall 9/11 victims

Five-year anniversary fails to dim pain for some, while others have found ways to cope with loss

News Staff Reporter
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Mark Mulville/Buffalo News
Amy Schadt of Hamburg is joined by other Hilbert College students Monday evening on the school's Hamburg campus for a remembrance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States five years ago. More 9/11 photos on the Picture Page, C10.


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Dennis C. Enser/Buffalo News
Roseann Dobosen's friend, Adriana Legro, was killed on 9/11. A flag marking her death was part of this display Monday on the lawn at the American Red Cross in Buffalo.


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Dennis C. Enser/Buffalo News
Leonard Castrianno attended a ceremony Monday in Amherst to remember his son Leonard, who was working in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.


The victims of Sept. 11 are honored at a small, peaceful knoll in Amherst, where young oak and maple trees encircle a tall pole with a flag of the World Trade Center flapping in the wind.

Leonard Castrianno stood there in the warm afternoon sun Monday remembering his son, Leonard, who worked on the 105th floor of the North Tower. Five years has done little to ease the father's pain.

"This year, for some reason, it hit me very hard. I don't know why," said Castrianno, of Amherst. "The emotion just came back to me. All the sadness, and all the different things we went through after Leonard's death. It's been like that for me for a good part of the year, to be honest with you."

The thousands of fallen heroes and innocent victims from Sept. 11, 2001, were remembered Monday in ceremonies and tributes throughout Western New York, marking the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

One of the earliest was held at 8:30 a.m. in Erie Basin Marina, as religious and elected officials gave brief speeches in an observance marked by an oral timeline of the Sept. 11 events and the solemn ringing of four bells.

This was a visual remembrance, too, with the fireboat Edward M. Cotter shooting up streams of water on Lake Erie, behind the various speakers who provided an ecumenical perspective to the day of infamy. Among those addressing about 100 people were Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, Mayor Byron W. Brown and Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra.

Dozens gathered during a noontime ceremony at Amherst Memorial Hill, just off the Ellicott Creek Trailway, near North Forest Road.

Religious and elected leaders said prayers or a few words, as did Castrianno; his daughter, Leigh Macadlo; and Karen Eckert, the sister-in-law of Sean Rooney.

Rooney, 50, was a Buffalo native and a company vice president working on the 105th floor of the South Tower on Sept. 11.

The anniversary brings back the traumatic images and memories for those families who watched loved ones die on television, said Eckert, of Amherst.

The way her family got through it - and still gets through it - is remembering Rooney's life. The other day, for instance, they cooked some of his favorite meals, and Monday morning some of his family decided to play golf, one of Rooney's pastimes.

"We still miss Sean," said Rooney's sister, Cynthia Blest of Buffalo. "The memories don't fade away, but they're less sharp than they were right after Sept. 11."

Ultimately, Eckert said, this anniversary is about celebrating the lives of those who died on Sept. 11.

"We would not trade the pain of losing them for the privilege of having known them," Eckert said.

Castrianno said he has gotten beyond being angry about the death of his son, a 30-year-old Williamsville East graduate who was on the verge of becoming a bond trader and had dreams of working his way up the corporate ladder.

Instead, he prays each day that people show more love, respect and understanding toward one another.

"What I feel is mostly sad," Castrianno said. "I'm sad about what's continually going on in the world today."

At St. Stephen's Catholic Church on Grand Island, hundreds attended a Mass celebrated by the Rev. Joseph F. Moreno, who served as a Ground Zero chaplain for the New York City police and fire departments. He said the smoke was so thick that he was on his hands and knees as he ministered.

"I held hands with people who were trapped in the pit," said the 48-year-old bushy-haired priest, who is sacramental vicar for the Diocese of Buffalo. "A lot of the firefighters wanted absolution and the last rites before going into the buildings. Even the non-Catholics wanted the priest."

He remembered the Rev. Mychal Judge, the fire department chaplain who died in the disaster.

"He carried a prayer in his helmet," he recalled. "His driver says that on his way to Ground Zero he said the prayer." Moreno recited the prayer:

Lord, take me where you want me to go.

Let me meet whom you want me to meet.

Tell me what you wane me to say.

And keep me out of your way.

During the service Moreno also remembered Trooper Joseph A. Longobardo, fatally wounded Aug. 31 during the search for a prison fugitive. At one point the priest knelt down to waft incense on a trooper's Stetson and a firefighter's helmet brought to the church by two dozen members of the Grand Island Fire Department.

Staff Reporter Gene Warner contributed to this story.