Angels’ Circle ceremony commemorates Staten Island 9/11 victims

Kiawana Rich Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – A heartbroken Sam Cannizzaro honored two lost angels at Angels’ Circle in Grasmere Wednesday evening: His son, Firefighter Brian Cannizzaro, who died at Ground Zero on 9/11, and his wife, Carol, 71, who died July 12.

A mourner at Angel's Circle. Wednesday September 10, 2014. (Staten Island Advance Anthony DePrimo)

A mourner at Angel’s Circle. Wednesday September 10, 2014. (Staten Island Advance Anthony DePrimo)

The 13th anniversary ceremony at Angels’ Circle, which paid tribute to Staten Islanders lost in the terrorist attacks, was dedicated to Mrs. Cannizzaro, who was the inspiration for the memorial there.

She came each day to the site to seek and remember her son after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Half of the time I didn’t even know she was coming here,” admitted Cannizzaro. “I was probably sound asleep and she just came down.”

Angels’ Circle founder and caretaker, Wendy Pellegrino, tearfully recounted how, right after 9/11, she would see a woman there every morning at 3 a.m., sitting on the ground in front of the space where Ms. Pellegrino had put up an American flag.

When she spoke to the woman — who was Mrs. Cannizzaro — she said, “I come here, Wendy, because I can find my son.”

“Because of Carol, I knew that you mothers and fathers needed to be able to go to a place and find your loved ones [because their remains had not been found],” said Ms. Pellegino, “and that’s how Angels’ Circle was born.”

Mrs. Pellegrino read the poem, “A Mother’s True Price,” as a tribute to Mrs. Cannizzaro. “She was a very special woman,” added Ms. Pellegrino.

“Listening to the words, Wendy made me so proud,” said a deeply touched Cannizzaro, “and everyone here realizes … if they didn’t know Carol before, they know her now.” The couple had been married 53 years.

With a backdrop of beautiful flowers, a crowd of over 350 people came to honor their loved ones. American flags and red, white and blue ribbons decorated the space, along with candles, flowers and photos.

Many FDNY firefighters and NYPD officers also were present to honor their fallen brethren.

The names of Staten Islanders who died on 9/11 — firefighters, police officers and civilians — were read.

Christian Di Meo, 53, who is in the U.S. Marine Corps active ready reserve, was one of the speakers. A decorated Marine with 28 years’ service, he was activated twice after 9/11. His birthday is on September 11, he said, and can be a painful occasion, but his late mother had promised him one of his birthdays would be a great start to his recovery.

“That day is today because I am meeting you,” he said.

Musical performers included the Staten Island Pipes and Drums, mother-and-daughter duo Teresa and  Cheyenne Poidormani, Ken Ryan, the Moore Catholic High School Choir and Mark Narcisse. Ms. Pellegrino recited several poems during the evening.

Among those in attendance the event were Borough President James Oddo and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.

The invocation was given by the Rev. Michael Martine, pastor of Holy Rosary R.C. Church, South Beach.

Ms. Pellegrino also thanked contributors, including Ariemma’s Garden Center in Dongan Hills, Walsh Electric, Robert Chiusano, Wilson Mai, and the Simonetti family.

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