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Sep 3, 2019 2:58 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

9/11 Memorial To Be Dedicated In Amagansett

Tony Ganga in front of the memorial on Friday.  ELIZABETH VESPE
Sep 3, 2019 3:11 PM

Tony Ganga sat silently on one of the concrete benches next to the 9/11 Memorial at the American Legion Hall in Amagansett on a sunny Friday afternoon, gazing at the new memorial as butterflies and bees flew through the memorial garden. To pay tribute to those lost in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, the memorial will be dedicated at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 11, at American Legion Post 419.

“I think it turned out spectacular. I come here sometimes in the morning and drink my coffee and just smile,” Mr. Ganga said while admiring the structure.

Members of American Legion Post 419 — with Mr. Ganga, a commander of the Sons of the American Legion Post 419, and the son of a Korean War veteran, spearheading the efforts — have been working since 2015 to complete the memorial.

The structure can be viewed from Montauk Highway just to the east of the American Legion Hall. It features a standing, 14-foot-long piece of steel recovered from the World Trade Center wreckage, with a dedication plaque in front and the concrete benches surrounding it. A brick patio and garden have also been installed so that people can visit the structure and reflect.

There are motion sensor lights around the memorial and a spotlight that will illuminate the statue from dusk until dawn, Mr. Ganga said.

Altogether, the project cost $34,000.

Before embarking on fundraising for the memorial, Mr. Ganga and his brother, Bob Ganga, also of American Legion Post 419, had to find a way to acquire a piece of metal from the wreckage, and transport it safely to Amagansett.

This process began in 2014, when, Mr. Ganga said, his brother came up with the idea for the memorial. Soon after, the brothers found out that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had been recovering pieces of the World Trade Center and giving them out to organizations such as fire departments, police departments and legion halls, to name a few.

The application process was lengthy, but in 2015, Mr. Ganga was able to transport the piece of steel from New York City on a flatbed truck. Because of the artifact’s importance, police escorts, in addition to the Red Knights and Legion Riders, accompanied the truck as it made its way to Amagansett.

“All of the stars aligned, and next thing we knew, we had a pickup date, which was August 24, 2015,” Mr. Ganga recalled, adding that there was a storm that day, but it didn’t dampen his excitement.

After that, he tried for a year and a half to design a memorial, also attempting to get East Hampton High School students involved in the design process.

Through a chance encounter — his brother was driving the designer in a taxi in New York City — Mr. Ganga met Gustavo Bonevardi, one of the creators of “Tribute in Light,” in which twin beams of light are projected from Lower Manhattan toward the sky every September 11. Mr. Bonevardi agreed to design the memorial.

Mr. Ganga received donations from the East Hampton Lions Club, the Springs Fire Department and private individuals. The Stephen Talkhouse held a comedy night last December that raised more than $6,000 for the project, and, in January, Dayton Ritz and Osborne Insurance donated $5,200, which put the fundraising over the top.

People can still go to thatsmybrick.com and pay $100 to engrave a personal message on one of the 900 bricks that will form a patio that surrounds the memorial.

The legion is going to convert the money left over from donations into a yearly $500 book scholarship for East Hampton High School students.

“You really shouldn’t forget stuff like 9/11,” Mr. Ganga said. “I’m not trying to dwell on it, but these people deserve to be remembered. This is not a war memorial — it’s a place to come and reflect.”

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Excellent!
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Sep 4, 19 12:31 PM
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