The City of Peekskill Fire Department will hold its annual 9/11 Ceremony – observing the fateful day’s 20th anniversary – at 6:30 p.m. at the Sam Oitice Heroes Remembered Memorial at Riverfront Green Park. All are invited to attend and to follow the proper Covid guidelines in place at the time.
Following the Fire Department’s long-standing ritual for this day, elected officials will be recognized, but will not deliver public remarks, to focus the 30-minute ceremony on remembering the lives lost.
One new feature of this year’s ceremony will be the presentation of three American Flags — flown over the new One World Trade Center — to the Oitice family, Wassil family, and O’Hanlon family, in remembrance of their fallen heroes.
Samuel P. Oitice of Ladder 4 of the Fire Department of New York (F.D.N.Y.) was killed that day. He was a lifetime member of the Peekskill Fire Department (P.F.D.), says past P.F.D. Captain Sue Sheridan, who supervises the Department’s annual 9/11 ceremony.
Oitice was a volunteer Captain for Peekskill Engine 434, served in both the Peekskill and Yorktown Ambulance Corps, and was a Detective. All his contributions are duly reflected on the Memorial.
Oitice was 45 at the time of death, leaving behind wife Jean and children John and Jessica.
“He’s the reason we started the Memorial,” says Sue Sheridan.“From 2002-2008, we held a ceremony at Sam’s grave in Assumption Cemetery. We took our time to not rush into the Memorial, and did not put pieces in the ground until 2009. One of those pieces is a World Trade Center steel beam donated in 2010 by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.”
For a look at what’s happening in Cortlandt to commemorate 9/11, see Local Heroes Remembered and Revered
Charles Wassil, Jr. was a retired Detective who spent several months at Ground Zero on his time off, searching for individuals, says Sheridan. He passed May 1, 2013 from a disease contracted by working at Ground Zero. The Peekskill Police Benevolent Association added a plaque to the Memorial in his honor.
Cortlandt resident Michael R. O’Hanlon was a retired Firefighter who worked for the F.D.N.Y. He passed in 2017 from cancer caused by working on the Ground Zero pile.
The Sam Oitice Heroes Remembered Memorial, designed by artist Andrea Grimsley of Ohio, depicts a Firefighter, representing the entire Peekskill Fire Department, kneeling in remembrance of Sam Oitice, overlooking a replica of his F.D.N.Y. helmet and jacket.
Around the base of the statue are five plaques bearing the names of First Responders who perished on, or as a result of, 9/11.
A three-section F.D.N.Y. plaque honors 343 Firefighters. An N.Y.P.D. plaque cites 23 of their fallen comrades, and 38 Port Authority names are inscribed on a third plaque. A fourth plaque salutes Wassil and a fifth pays homage to all those who perished on 9/11.