While a crowd gathers at Ground Zero today to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, a small group of retired NYPD officers will be east on Long Island paying tribute to their friends who died that day.
About a dozen retired cops will be going from cemetery to cemetery visiting the gravesites of New York Police Department Officers who died on 9/11. They will plant flags, say a few words and pour a little Irish whiskey for the dead.
“Rather than sit home and do nothing or go down to ground zero where almost 3,000 people were killed, I get to do one-on-one with each one of the guys that I worked with. It’s more personal for me,” said Glen Klein, 55, who was a detective with the Emergency Service Unit.
Klein started making these cemetery trips five years ago. He had gone to memorials at Ground Zero for several years, but was looking for a more personal way to remember the 23 NYPD officers who died on 9/11.
“You know when I go visit my parents [at the cemetary], it’s always a personal moment there. I can talk to them. I don’t know if they can hear me but I hope they do. I decided it would be the same thing,” he said.
The first year, a few former colleagues joined him. Now he expects more than a dozen will be making the trip. He keeps a list of grave locations on his phone and expects to visit four cemeteries.
Frank Salamone, 56, was also a member of the Emergency Service Unit. He said everyone has their own ritual to mark the date.
“I…went to the beach and threw 14 roses into the ocean for the 14 members of our unit that were killed,” Salamone said, adding that he also lights candles at home for the dead.
Salamone moved to North Carolina not long after the attacks. He came back this year to join Klein and the others visiting the graves.