On the eve of the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks, police were searching for the vandals who stole a plaque dedicated in remembrance of three parishioners of St. Cecilia’s Church who died in the tragedy.
Two weeks ago, a metal plaque with the names of three Greenpoint residents, Carl Bedigian, Andrew Desperito and Catherine Fagan, who lost their lives on 9/11, was reported stolen by St. Cecilia’s, located at 84 Herbert Street. The thieves are believed to have climbed the wrought iron fence and screwed off the plaque from its pink marble base. Four screws still remain on the ground in front of the memorial stone.
“It appears it was stolen for the intrinsic value of the metal within it,” Assemblymember Joseph Lentol said. “There was a theft of a World War II plaque on Fidelity Square two blocks away and a sewer plate was also stolen. My hope would be that the police are checking people who deal in metal and trade in metal.”
Lentol helped secure funds for the donation of the memorial and a flagpole, which was installed behind St. Cecilia’s Church in 2002. In the years since the dedication, the community, which sits on the Williamsburg-Greenpoint border, has held candlelit vigils and remembrance ceremonies at the Knights of Columbus (293 Graham Avenue) and St. Francis Church, as well as in masses in area parishes. Family members of the three residents were aware of the theft but were unable to be reached for comment for this article.
Community residents still remember their neighbors who passed away seven years ago and commemorate their loss. On Hausman Street, where members of Fagan’s family still live, homeowners have attached 60 American flags to the guardrails in front of each home in the memory of those lost during 9/11.
“Catherine Fagan was my neighbor. Her daughter went through the school years with my children,” said Joann McErlean, a Hausman Street resident. “Her children were young when her husband died. She not only took care of her kids but also went to school to further her education. She was a very hard worker.”
Tish Cianciotta, a resident of Humboldt Street, remembered when Carl Bedigian, a New York City firefighter, accompanied his mother to a meeting with the Parks Department about an issue she was passionate about.
“He wanted to improve the quality of life of that park on Meeker Avenue and Monitor,” Cianciotta said. “She was devastated losing her son in the World Trade Center.”
Lentol wants to have a rededication ceremony for the plaque next year on September 11 if the police are unable to recover it. He believes it is important to continue to have memorial services so that both new and old residents continue to remember the people in their community who died in the tragedy.
“Time has a way of dimming memory,” Lentol said. “It is part of our human nature. What we have to do in the spirit of remembrance is use it as an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to remembering those in our Greenpoint family who died in the 9/11 attacks.”
If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of the plaque you are urged to call the Community Affairs Office at the 94th precinct - 718-383-5298.