More than 100 people gathered in the Village of Port Jefferson Saturday to remember the names of local men and women who perished during the 9/11 attacks 19 years ago.
Backed by The Setauket Patriots, the plan to march was deemed “not authorized” by the village due to an emergency order banning similar events as a precaution against COVID-19.
Organizer James Robitsek told GreaterPortJeff the march still had to be done.
“We wanted to come out and remember the fallen among heroes,” he said. “Other public events were being cancelled or going virtual because of the virus.”
The group gathered at the LIRR lot at Route 112 and Railroad Avenue on Saturday, eventually making its way to the park across from Village Hall.
There, Vietnam War veteran David Mann — a graduate of the 1966 class at what’s now caled Earl L. Vandermeulen High School — read a prayer then led the group into singing the national anthem.
“I see all of you waving your flags for those men,” Mann said. “You all are true patriots.”
They then read the names of the men and women from the Town of Brookhaven whose lives were lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Robitsek said attendees were asked to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Suffolk County Police were on standby, blocking off traffic to protect the group as it proceeded toward the downtown.
While The Setauket Patriots are known locally for its staunch support of President Donald Trump and conservative values, Robitesk said that marchers were asked to show support for firefighters, police officers and first responders on this day.
They were also asked to leave their political flags at home.
Robitesk added he was pleased with the turnout.
“It was pretty good considering we were warned we’d get arrested,” he said. “Next year we’ll do the same… we’re going to push for a national holiday – Patriot Day.”
Photos of Saturday’s march by Julianne Mosher