The annual Saracini-O’Neill 9/11 Memorial ceremony will be held on Sept. 11, 2023 at 10am. Jackson Ave and boardwalk, on the border of Atlantic City and Ventnor.
The keynote speech will honor the US Coast Guard’s role in evacuating of 500,000 people from Southern Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001.
US Coast Guard Atlantic City Station Commander Alex Kloo and Coast Guard members will be present for patriotic songs, a Last Salute funeral and Honor Guard with cannon, flag folding presentation and bagpipers.
A 30×50 American flag will be strung from an ACPD ladder truck.
Saracini-O’Neill 9/11 Memorial ceremony
Jackson Ave on the Boardwalk
Border of Atlantic City and Ventnor.
Bob Pantalena and Pam Paparone are producers of the annual, AC 911 Memorial event.
Bob and Pam, You have our sincere gratitude and appreciation for helping create this solemn memorial and coordinate this important annual event, “Lest We Forget.”Dennis Levinson, Atlantic County Executive
- Opening Prayer (Jeff Mac Neill)
- Presentation of Colors (Last Salute)
- National Anthem (Eve Amalfitano)
- Pledge of Allegiance ( Rick Santoro)
- Opening Remarks ( Pam Paparone)
- Wayne Russo Eulogy (Paparone)
- God Needed a Guardian (Jamie Knutson)
- U S Coast Guard Tribute ( Michael Fedorko)
- Coast Guard Theme Song ( Sandpipers)
- Prayer Box (Last Salute)
- Memorial Flag presentation (Last Salute)
- Bell Ceremony (Marco Polo) ( ACFD)
- Taps (ACPD)
- Cannon Salute
In biblical times, Pharaoh’s army pursued the Israelites to the shoreline of the Red Sea. Moses parted the sea. He delivered the Israelites to the safety of the Promised Land.
During World War 2, Hitler’s army pursued 338,000 French, Belgium and British soldiers, trapping them on the shoreline of Dunkirk, France. Winston Churchill called on boat owners of any size, to come to their rescue.
And the Miracle of Dunkirk began. For nine days, an armada of British citizens braving enemy air, land and sea attacks, transported allied soldiers across the English Channel and delivered them to the safety of British soil.
On September 11, 2001, another exodus occurred after Islamic terrorists struck the World Trade Center. This caused over 500,000 residents, visitors and employees to flee Manhattan, trapping them between Ground Zero and the shoreline of New York Harbor.
For nine hectic hours, an armada of private and public safety boats organized. The effort was supervised and led by the United States Coast Guard. They rescued the survivors from the terror of Osama bin Laden and delivered them to the safety of Staten Island, Brooklyn and New Jersey.
Coastguardsmen take an oath requiring them too faithfully and honestly according to their best skill and judgment, accomplish the mission.
On that tragic day in American history, the men and women of the Coast Guard met and exceeded their sworn oath and lived-up to their motto; Semper Paratus…Always Ready.
September 11, 2001 was a routine day for the Coast Guard deployed out of the Sector New York. It was a warm and pleasant with a light northwest wind, clear skies. A perfect day to be on the water. A perfect day to be alive. Then terror struck.
Islamic terrorists hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175. They flew the airliners into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center.
The attack killed 2977 innocents and injured thousands. Tens of millions worldwide watched the events unfold on television.
The United States Coast Guard answered their Call to Duty. It was their most important mission since 1790, when they were founded by Alexander Hamilton.
When the North and South Towers collapsed, charcoal gray clouds of toxic dust, ash and debris swept over southern Manhattan covering everything in its path including hundreds of thousands of survivors, residents and employees.
Highways, tunnels, bridges, mass transportation and communication were shut down. They were under siege and cornered with no place to run. No place to hide.
A flood of panic struck the fleeing mass, herding over 500,000. Dazed and confused, Men, women and children seeking safety from the carnage they just escaped. All fearing another attack. All fearing death.
They followed the person ahead of them, winding up trapped in Battery Park. Trapped between Ground Zero and the New York Harbor. Desperate need of a miracle.
Admiral Richard E. Bennis was in charge of the Port of New York. He had a stellar resume including key roles in the 1996 Summer Olympics and the Alaskan Valdez Oil Spill. He was in Virginia recuperating from the previous day’s surgery.
When he saw the Twin Towers attack on television, he promptly got in his car and drove 232 miles to New York Harbor to oversee the mission.
On his trek, he saw a large plume of smoke coming from the vicinity of Arlington, Virginia. He learned later American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.
Admiral Bettis is an experienced leader of men. He had confidence in his officers who passed along that trust to the rank and file, the heart and soul of the service.
Bettis was aware the Coast Guard just transitioned from peace time to war time mode. He acted accordingly.
His Deputy, Captain Patrick Harris, was battle tested both in the air and at sea, earning 34 Air Medals as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. They were a good team with well trained coastguardsmen.
They were the right team at the right time, in the right place to fulfill their Coast Guard oath. They rolled-up their sleeves and went to work.
They called-in the Atlantic Strike Team appointing Lt. Michael Day as “On-scene Commander”
Day knew every sandbar, rip current and key player in the New York Harbor. He supervised numerous charity swims, July Fourth fireworks and similar events, but nothing of this magnitude. Nothing of this importance.
Lt. Day knew the resources of the Sandy Hook Pilots Association with their seasoned mariners, their tugboats and their pilot ship, the ‘New York’.
Day evaluated the available inventory of watercraft that the Coast Guard, NYPD and FDNY could provide concluding he needed more boats. A lot more. The sooner the better.
With all bridges, tunnels, highways and conventional communications interrupted, Lt. Day opted to use Channel 16, the Coast Guard emergency channel.
He keyed the mike on the Marine VHF Radio announcing All available boats, this is the United States Coast Guard, aboard the Pilot Boat; New York. Anyone available to help with the evacuation of lower Manhattan report to Governors Island.
Suzie Neustadter Sings.
By late morning, every available asset of the United States Coast Guard was in the water or underway to Governors Island.
Lt. Day anxiously awaited the response to his VHF call for assistance. Then one boat appeared, then 25 boats.
Within an hour, a flotilla of 130 fishing vessels, yachts, pleasure and fishing skiffs, sightseeing, dinner-cruise boats, ferries and tug boats including every asset of NYPD and FDNY, arrived at Governor’s Island.
The United States Coast Guard and Lt. Day led the flotilla.
As they nosed around Southern Manhattan, they saw people exhibiting shock, anxiety, fear and panic. The mass stretching twenty city blocks to the north and twenty blocks to the south, covered from head to toe in dust and debris.
Rumors of further attacks by air and suicide bombers circulated among them, heightening the anxiety. All were afraid of further attacks. All in fear of dying.
As the masses grew, people were forced into the water by the crush of the crowd. Some voluntary jumped to cleanse themselves of dust, debris and death.
Lt. Day threw away the rule book as resources were scarce, there were lives to be saved. He authorized Risk-Safe over-loading of boats and the emptying of all Marina’s to facilitate the unloading of the evacuees.
Multi-million dollar yachts were towed from their moorings to make room for the disembarking passengers.
Calls from surrounding Emergency Services reported they had over 60 available ambulances awaiting the injured. Hospitals in New York and New Jersey were at the ready.
Hundreds of off-duty Port Authority, New York Police and Fire rushed to ferry terminals for transportation to Ground Zero.
Throughout the day on every VHF channel you could hear people screaming Help, I need people over here, I got someone hurt, Coast Guard over here.
For nine intense and grueling hours, the United States Coast Guard coordinated participated and led the exodus of over 500,000 evacuees to the safety of the shores of Staten Island… Brooklyn and New Jersey.
After all the evacuees were safe, the Coast Guard mission continued throughout the night and following days.
First responders needed transportation to and from Ground Zero.
Supplies were in high demand. Bottled water, acetylene torches, oxygen, food, fuel, medical supplies and the sobering request for tens of thousands of body bags.
The Coast Guard set-up showers, hydration sites, decontamination stations and rest areas for workers.
Later that night, a visit to Ground Zero revealed a pile of rubble and twisted steel, smoldering fires seen through the charcoal grey dust, thick as fog, blaring police and fire radios, beeping of construction equipment, a battlefield, an eerie and surreal killing field, a memory never to be forgotten.
One sight stood out amid the death and destruction. The American Flag raised by FDNY firefighters Johnson, Mc Williams and Eisenrein.
The flag waving in a light breeze, on a bent and bruised flag pole, tattered and torn, beautiful yet defiant.
The same flag raised at Fort McHenry in the War of 1812 , at Iwo Jima, the North Pole, on the Moon.
The iconic symbol of freedom, elevated above the death and destruction, among the rubble and twisted steel, announcing to the free world…America is standing tall.
We will endure…we will persevere like the phoenix we will rise from the ashes…that we will not bend a knee to terrorism…to evil……that we are America …that we are America Strong…that we are the United States of America.
God Bless the 2977 innocents who died on 9-11. God Bless our Police, Fire and First Responders. God Bless our United States Coast Guard.
Hats off to event organizers, Bob Pantalena and Pam Paparone.
The Saracini-O’Neill Atlantic City 9/11 Memorial is a private 501(c)(3), all volunteer organization dedicated to remembering those individuals who perished on September 11, 2001 and in our subsequent military response to worldwide terrorism.