If Michelle Bratton were alive today she would be 40.
Her life was cut short 17 years ago when a plane hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower, just a few weeks after Bratton, 23, had started her first post-graduate marketing job in an office located in the building’s 105th floor, according to a 9/11 Remembrance Instagram post from 2017.
Bratton’s parents described their daugther, a collegiate diver, as a Madonna-loving, determined spirit who loved to mentor younger girls in her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, at the State University of New York College at Oswego, according to the post.
Bratton is one of 11 Floral Park residents who died during the Sept. 11 attacks.
Howard Gelling, Thomas Hetzel, Robert C. King Jr., Ronald P. Kloepfer, Brian Magee, Charles Mendez, Robert M. Regan, Billy Dean, Keith G. Fairben and Ryan D. Fitzgerald all lost their lives either working in their office or by responding to the attacks.
Their names are engraved on the village 9/11 memorial, which about 50 residents gathered around on Tuesday morning to honor and celebrate their lives.
The memorial, erected in 2011, has a 9/11 relic, a twisted steel girder recovered from the World Trade Center site.
For a few children and teenagers in attendance, the 2001 attacks are not a memory but a day in history.
As each name was read, a member of the Floral Park Fire Department placed a rose on the monument.
The Rev. Thomas Fusco, a pastor at Our Lady of Victory Church, blessed the village relic.
Mayor Dominick Longobardi reminded residents to be thankful for those who dedicate their lives to protecting freedom for others.
“We live in the best country in the world,” Longobardi said. “We can live a promise that has been given to us by those who fought. And every day we have to remember what we have, remember that old saying – freedom is not free.”
The United Methodist Church’s bells tolled at 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m. to commemorate the exact moments 17 years ago the planes struck the North and South towers, respectively.
The Rev. Benjamin Yoo of the Methodist church said, “We remember the first time we heard the news.”
“We remember the way our thoughts and prayers were with those families who lost loved ones,” Yoo said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them again today.”
Although it is a solemn day, Longobardi said, “we also celebrate the lives we lost.”
“May we remember them for the sacrifices they made,” he said.