Local Boy Scout remembers uncle through memorial site
While pondering ideas about what to do for his Eagle Scout project, Chaminade High School junior and Stewart Manor resident Steven Giammona wanted to do a project that was close to home for a village that he loves. Like many families on Long Island, Giammona’s family had been deeply affected by the tragic events that unfolded during the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Born just one month after 9/11, Giammona never had the opportunity to meet his uncle Vincent Giammona, a captain of the FDNY and first responder who died during that fateful day.
“I figured that I would bring these two parts of my life together,” said Giammona who belongs to Boy Scout Troop 134, which is based out of St. Anne’s Church in Garden City. “I realized that my 9/11 story isn’t that unique. Everybody has a loved one that they really want to honor and cherish. So what I’m hoping for with my project is that people can come from not only Stewart Manor but from other surrounding villages and towns to come and reflect.”
After getting permission for use from the Stewart Manor Fire Department, the focal point of Giammona’s memorial is a mounted piece of steel that is from the World Trade Center, which was given to the department by the Port Authority. Another facet of the memorial is a pentagonal base that surrounds the village’s pre-existing flag pole.
“Before my project there were shrubs and a tree directly blocking the flag pole so the village wasn’t able to get access to it or even take the flag down,” explained Giammona. “So now through my project, not only are they able to take the flag down and have a proper ceremony, but I was able to make a planting bed also.”
Receiving a tremendous amount of encouragement from his troop and area, which includes Stewart Manor Mayor Mike Onorato and the village’s former fire chief Tom Skinner who has been there since the beginning, Giammona says the community support has been truly overwhelming.
“Many parts of my project are donated materials or donated time,” said Giammona. “Also with my project, when it comes to the average citizen I’ve gotten to hear countless 9/11 stories. People have their own experiences and not only their own experiences, but the people that they lost.”
Through his project, Giammona was able to interact with people that he said he normally wouldn’t have interacted with before—connecting with village residents on a personal level that he didn’t think possible.
“I feel like through these stories, I got to meet people in my small village that’s only five and a half blocks,” he said. “Through this project I learned there’s a lot more to it than I originally thought.”
Giammona also credits Chaminade for helping him achieve his goal of creating the 9/11 memorial project by helping him grow as a person.
“Through Chaminade, I feel that I’ve become more responsible and definitely more social and outgoing. I credit my clubs and the activities that I do like swimming, but definitely the teachers and the friends that I’ve met here,” he said. “I’d say Chaminade helped me become the person I am today and by being the person that I am today, I was able to accomplish this project.”
One faculty member at Chaminade who Giammona said has been supportive of his efforts is his swim coach Angelo Pellicone.
“He is not only an Eagle Scout himself but he’s also made me feel at home at Chaminade,” said Giammona, who also belongs to the school’s production club, ETV.
Although the memorial honors his uncle, Giammona says his memorial is dedicated to the friends and family of Stewart Manor residents who lost their lives on 9/11.
“This is a community project that is only possible because of the community,” Giammona explained. “This is a combination of all of our blood, sweat and tears. I just have the fortune of being the person trying to get it all together and manage it.”
To visit or reflect on the events of that tragic day, Giammona’s 9/11 memorial monument is on the corner of Covert and Chester Avenues next to the Stewart Manor Fire Department.