It’s hard to believe that nearly twenty years have passed since one of the most terrible days in U.S. history. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 cost thousands of Americans their lives, but the day also saw feats of exceptional bravery and courage that will always be remembered.
Top-Bottom: Dennis Edwards, Joseph Anchundia,
Susan Clyne-Dietrich, Judd Cavalier,
Michael McCarthy, and Michelle Titolo.
Those living through that dark day and the days and weeks that followed can never forget the stunning loss of life and destruction of property. Americans will always remember the incredible heroism displayed at the World Trade Center in Manhattan, at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and on United Airlines Flight 93, which tumbled from the sky and crashed in an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The scale of death and devastation and the utter chaos caused by the 19 terrorists that hijacked four airplanes in the early hours of that fateful morning is still hard to fathom and put into perspective.
The horrible death toll consisted of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans, including more than 400 uniformed firefighters and police officers. Many hearts were torn asunder, never to be stitched back together again. Another 6,000 individuals survived, but sustained injuries. It was the single worst terrorist attack in world history.
Two decades later, the Huntington school community continues to mourn the loss of six alumni who perished at the World Trade Center, along with former Huntington students who attended elementary school in the district before enrolling at other Long Island high schools to complete their scholastic education.
“In light of all going on around us at present, it important for us to take a moment to recognize those who were lost on this tragic day, both locally and beyond, including the those on the front line who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “In Huntington, we remember.”
Many district employees also suffered the loss of loved ones that frightening September morning, including a husband and brother and the daughter of a retired teacher. Several dozen community residents were killed in the attacks. Many worked for financial service firms, which had a large presence in WTC Towers I and II while others were members of New York City’s uniformed services.
Among Huntington High School’s lost alumni were Susan Clyne-Dietrich (1977), Dennis Edwards (1984), Michelle Titolo (1985), Michael Desmond McCarthy (1986), Judson Cavalier (1993) and Joe Anchundia (1993). The grads left behind devastated families and friends who have never completely overcome their loss.
Ms. Clyne-Dietrich, a graduate of C.W. Post College and Touro Law School never entered a courtroom because she fell in love with computers. She worked on the 96th floor of the Tower One as senior vice-president of Marsh & McLennan, the largest insurance company in the world. The Huntington grad oversaw global software design for the firm. A married mother of three, she lived in Lindenhurst.
Mr. Edwards, 35, was a partner with bond giant Cantor Fitzgerald, working at the top of the World Trade Center. He resided in Huntington after marrying his high school sweetheart, Patti, and was the father of a 2½ year old daughter. During the 1993 bombing of the WTC he carried a pregnant woman down 80 flights of stairs, saving her life.
Following her graduation from Huntington High School, Ms. Titolo obtained a degree in finance from St. John’s University and later obtained an MBA. She was working as an equity controller for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st floor of One World Trade Center when she was killed in the terrorist attack. The 34 year old had just settled into a new home in Copiague.
Mr. McCarthy, who turned 33 years old on September 8, 2001, was an assistant vice-president at Carr Futures, specializing in the London Stock Exchange. On September 10-11, he worked the overnight shift of 2 a.m. – 10 a.m. and was slated to leave the World Trade Center shortly after the terrorists struck. The firm was located on the 92nd floor of Tower One, two floors below the impact zone of the plane. All 68 people on the floor, including Mr. McCarthy survived the initial explosion, but an inferno that spread to the west side of the floor prevented anyone from escaping alive.
Following Mr. McCarthy’s death, his family created a scholarship at Huntington High School, presenting several years of awards in his memory. He is buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Huntington.
Mr. Anchundia, a Longwood College alum and Mr. Cavalier, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, both worked at Sandler O’Neill & Partners not far from the highest reaches of the WTC. Best friends since attending Flower Hill Elementary School together, the pair were both 26 years old and just starting to climb the corporate ladder with the investment banking firm. On September 11, they were together once more, working on the 104th floor of Tower Two when terrorists deliberately crashed a speeding plane into the building.
Over the years, the Huntington School District has commemorated the events of 9/11 in a variety of ways ranging from school-wide moments of silence, emotional poetry readings and poignant written testimonials to group meditations, musical tributes and gatherings of students, faculty and staff.
Huntington UFSD will never forget.