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9/11 Responders Remembered Park

Scott Blackshaw's brother, David, center right, holds a sign dedicating Hillwood Drive for the 9/11 responder's honor. Photo from Town of Huntington

Town of Huntington officials paid tribute last Saturday to a Huntington Station resident who lost his life to 9/11-related illnesses.

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) led a street ceremony Aug. 25 dedicating Valleywood Drive in Huntington Station in honor of former New York Police Department officer Scott Blackshaw.

“NYPD Officer Scott Blackshaw embodied the American spirit that rises to any challenge, a spirit of selfless sacrifice to help others in need, and a spirit of resolve and bravery committed to defending our way of life,” Lupinacci said. “Scott Blackshaw dedicated his time and his love to his family.”

“NYPD Officer Scott Blackshaw embodied the American spirit that rises to any challenge, a spirit of selfless sacrifice to help others in need, and a spirit of resolve and bravery committed to defending our way of life.”

— Chad Lupinacci

Blackshaw was a graduate of Northport High School who joined the NYPD in 1990. He patrolled the Manhattan South borough and worked for the 13th Precinct at the time of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He spent six weeks on duty at ground zero working the pile, searching for traces of his fallen comrades and fellow citizens.

“We must never, ever forget what a hero really means is someone who is selfless, who gives of their time and energy because they care about their community,” state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) said. “Scott was such a person.”

Blackshaw lost his battle with cancers sustained as a result of his work at Ground Zero May 20. He was 52. The town supervisor said his neighbors recalled how he was the type of person who used to help cut their grass for free and plow their driveways when it snowed. As he fell ill, Blackshaw’s friends and neighbors rallied to his support to take care of him, calling themselves “Team Scotty.” He, in return, call them “his angels.”

“Scot was one of those people, he cultivated a family right here on this road,” said Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly (D-Deer Park). “This sign will be a living testament not only to NYPD Officer Scott Blackshaw but to the kind of person he really was.”

More than 10,000 people have been diagnosed and certified to have 9/11-related cancers and illnesses, according to John Feal of the Feal Good Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to helping all emergency personnel who have faced injury or illness due to their time of service get the health care they need.

On Sept. 15, Feal said Blackshaw’s name will be officially added to hundreds of other first responders and emergency personnel who lost their lives as result of the attacks listed on the memorial wall at the 9/11 Responders Remembered Memorial Park, located on Smithtown Boulevard in Nesconset.

“But now that the street sign is up, he’d say it’s your responsibility to cut your grass every week and pick up your leaves.

— David Blackshaw

“Today’s street ceremony serves a purpose like the park,” he said. “That history is never distorted and so generations to come will know the sacrifice that Scott and others made. These are tangible items that you can see and can touch that will be a reminder that Scott was truly a hero.”

Following the unveiling of the new street sign, Blackshaw’s friends and family hosted a block party to honor his life with donated food, drinks and supplies from the Best Yet in East Northport, East Northport Beverage, and The Home Depot in Huntington.

Blackshaw’s brother, David, said it was amazing to see the community come together for Scott, providing him with a support system that gave “full life.”

“My brother wouldn’t want this sign up on the street, and he would tell you all to go away,” he said, his words answered by laughter. “But now that the street sign is up, he’d say it’s your responsibility to cut your grass every week and pick up your leaves.”

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The latest 100 names are read off before being unveiled as part of Nesconset’s own memorial wall in honor of those lost after lending helping hands in the aftermath of September 11 in 2001. Photo by Jenni Culkin

By Jenni Culkin

There was not a dry eye in the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park as the greater North Shore community came together to commemorate the lives of first responders who died from September 11-related illnesses.

The Nesconset park, at the intersection of Smithtown Boulevard and Gibbs Pond Road, was dedicated to victims of the horrendous terrorist attack and was crowded with hundreds of residents and families as 100 new names were added to its memorial wall on May 16.

“They are the reason we get out of bed,” said John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, who acted as the master of ceremonies. “Thank you for allowing us to serve you.”

The wall already had more than 500 names, but those who spoke at the somber ceremony did so with the same sort of hurt felt when the attack first occurred in 2001.

“Like everyone here today, I pale in comparison to those who are going on the wall,” Martin Aponte, president of the park, said during the ceremony with a voice full of emotion.

The service featured various patriotic musical performances and words from elected officials.

“We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts,” said Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset), “I commit to you that I will always stand watch over this park.”

Elected officials from neighboring towns joined the Nesconset community in honoring the lives of the 9/11 responders.

“We are truly a country of greatness and heroes,” said Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore).

Toward the end of the ceremony, the sons of fallen responders read the names that were going to be etched into the memorial wall. Each name was followed by a solemn bell toll.

Shortly after the names were all read, the sun started to show itself above the memorial park. Feal and those who played active roles in leading the ceremony made it very clear during and after the ceremony that they were grateful for the amount of people attending the ceremony despite the rainy weather.

“It’s humbling to see this many people come out,” Feal said. “For people to withstand Mother Nature truly showed the American spirit.”

Aponte said there are trees among the park’s foliage that are direct descendants of a tree that survived the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11. One of these trees was given to the Hauppauge Fire Department and another was also given to the Nesconset Fire Department as tokens of appreciation for each department’s contribution to the park.

A memorial ceremony is usually held, and is expected to continue to be held, every May during Memorial Day week and every September during the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The park has plans to eventually recognize and honor the service dogs that have passed away due to 9/11-related illnesses, Aponte said. There are also plans to place signs on the Long Island Expressway that lead travelers to the park from nearby exits but there are no definite dates at this time.

The park’s upkeep and development is dependent upon donations that can be made on the park’s website, which is at respondersremembered.com. The Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce is also going to be hosting a golf outing to benefit the park in early August.

“We built this park so history does not get distorted,” Aponte said.

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