By Tom Wrobleski Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Vandals have again struck the “Postcards” 9/11 memorial in St. George, damaging five of the granite plaques that pay homage to Staten Islanders who perished in the terrorist attacks. “It’s disheartening,” said Borough President James P. Molinaro, whose office funded the $2.5 million memorial. “This is a cemetery for the families.”
Molinaro said that the damage occurred over the last two weeks. One plaque was entirely removed or destroyed, while four others were partially damaged.
He said some written graffiti that had been found on the memorial had already been cleaned.
Molinaro said the city Economic Development Corp., which manages the memorial, had been alerted and that new plaques would be constructed from existing molds.
It’s the third time that the memorial has been damaged since it was dedicated in 2004.
“It’s hallowed ground,” Molinaro said. “You shouldn’t touch it.”
Molinaro said he was alerted to the vandalism by Joanne Barbara, widow of FDNY Assistant Chief of Department Gerard Barbara, who perished on 9/11. His body was never recovered.
“It’s very upsetting,” said Ms. Barbara, a former West Brighton resident. “It’s hard enough not to have a cemetery to go to to pay your respects, a plot to put flowers or to sit and think.”
Ms. Barbara said she was concerned about the memorial’s being damaged again in the future.
“How are we going to prevent this from happening again?” she wondered.
Chief Barbara was a close friend of FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, a Huguenot resident. Molinaro said that Cassano had called him to make sure that repairs would be undertaken.
“It’s troubling that somebody would deface such an important and hallowed memorial,” said FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer. “I hope that whoever did this is quickly apprehended.”
Rosebank resident Steve Jezycki on Wednesday saw the vandalism when leaving flowers at the undamaged plaque of his sister, Peggy Jezycki Alario.
“It’s cowardly,” he said. “It’s disgusting and disgraceful. I would love to get my hands on whoever did this.”
The site of the borough’s major 9/11 memorial service each year, “Postcards” comprises 274 plaques in honor of Islanders who perished in the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
In 2009, a homeless woman was arrested after being accused of smashing two memorial plates.
Two years earlier, a victim’s plaque was smashed to pieces and thrown into the water nearby. The pieces were quickly recovered.
There was a report of another vandalism in 2010, but it turned out that the city had merely removed damaged plaques in order to repair them.