Huntington Remembers Alumni
Lost on 9/11
Anyone who lived through the shocking events of September 11, 2001 will always remember the senseless destruction of life and property and the extraordinary heroism and courage shown at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on United Airlines Flight 93 that tumbled from the sky and crashed in an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The magnitude of death and devastation and the havoc wreaked by the 19 terrorists that hijacked four airplanes that morning still leaves one speechless. Nearly 3,000 innocent Americans lost their lives that dark day in United States history. Many hearts were broken, never to be healed.
A decade later, the Huntington school community continues to mourn the loss of six alumni who perished at the World Trade Center, along with former Huntington students who attended elementary school in the district before enrolling at other Long Island high schools to complete their scholastic education.
Many district employees also lost loved ones that terrible September morning, including a husband, brother and the daughter of a retired teacher. Several dozen community residents were killed in the attacks. Many worked for financial service firms that had a large presence in WTC Towers I and II while others were members of New York City's uniformed services.
Among Huntington High School's lost alumni were Susan Clyne-Dietrich (1977), Dennis Edwards (1984), Michelle Titolo (1985), Michael Desmond McCarthy (1986), Judson Cavalier (1993) and Joe Anchundia (1993). The grads left behind heartbroken families and friends who have never completely recovered from their loss.
Ms. Clyne-Dietrich, a graduate of C.W. Post and Touro Law School never entered a courtroom because she fell in love with computers. She worked on the 96th floor of the Tower One as senior vice-president of Marsh & McLennan, the largest insurance company in the world. The Huntington grad oversaw global software design for the firm. A married mother of three, she lived in Lindenhurst.
Mr. Edwards, 35, was a partner with bond giant Cantor Fitzgerald, working at the top of the World Trade Center. He resided in Huntington after marrying his high school sweetheart, Patti, and was the father of a 2½ year old daughter. During the 1993 bombing of the WTC he carried a pregnant woman down 80 flights of stairs, saving her life.
Following graduation from Huntington High School, Ms. Titolo went on to earn a degree in finance from St. John's University and later obtained an MBA. She was working as an equity controller for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st floor of One World Trade Center when she was killed in the terrorist attack. The 34 year old and had just settled into a new home in Copiague.
Mr. McCarthy, who turned 33 years old on September 8, 2001, was an assistant vice-president at Carr Futures, specializing in the London Stock Exchange. On September 19-11, he worked the overnight shift, 2 a.m. – 10 a.m., and was slated to leave the World Trade Center shortly after the terrorists struck. The firm was located on the 92nd floor of Tower One, two floors below the impact zone of the plane. All 68 people on the floor, including Mr. McCarthy survived the initial explosion, but an inferno that spread to the west side of the floor prevented anyone from escaping alive.
Following Mr. McCarthy's death, his family created a scholarship at Huntington High School, presenting several awards in his memory. He is buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery in Huntington.
Mr. Anchundia, a Longwood College alum and Mr. Cavalier, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, worked at Sandler O'Neill & Partners near the highest reaches of the WTC. The pair was best friends since attending Flower Hill Elementary School together. They were both 26 years old and just starting to climb the corporate ladder with the investment banking firm. On September 11, the duo was once again together, working on the 104th floor of Tower Two when terrorists deliberately flew a plane into the building.
"Even today, ten years later, the pain and shock of 9/11 has not dissipated," Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. "The loss of life was truly stunning and caused our hearts to sink, while the remarkable courage displayed by firefighters, police, emergency service workers and ordinary Americans was inspiring and made all of us proud to be Americans."
Over the years, buildings in the Huntington School District have commemorated the events of 9/11 in their own unique way, ranging from school-wide moments of silence, poignant poetry readings and touching written testimonials to group reflections, musical tributes and gatherings of students, faculty and staff.
"We will always remember our Huntington alumni and the community members whose lives were cut short by the terrorist attacks that awful day," Mr. Polansky said.