Putnam family on museum: ‘My brother would be proud’

By Terence Corcoran lohud.com

Gail Silke & Michael Driscoll photo Seth Harrison, The Journal News

Gail Silke & Michael Driscoll photo Seth Harrison, The Journal News

NEW YORK – Gail Silke and Michael Driscoll entered the National September 11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero on Sunday evening, eager to see how it dealt with the terrorist attacks that claimed over 3,000 lives, including their brother, New York City Police Officer Stephen P. Driscoll.

They emerged two hours later with their spouses and children, emotionally drained but overall pleased.

“It was worth the wait. It was a long time waiting,” said Michael Driscoll, 40, of Wappingers Falls. “My brother would be extremely happy. It was a very unfiltered experience. You were able to see everything — all the artifacts — a little too dramatic, actually, certain things. But my brother would be especially proud.”

Silke said the experience took her back to how she felt on September 12, 2001, when she and other family members came down to Ground Zero with hopes Stephen would be found alive.

“It brought back every emotion, from the first day we were down here,” said Silke, 49. “Some parts were dark. It was dark and it brought every emotion back, every anger back. Then when we saw his picture [on display], it brought happiness.”

Stephen Driscoll of Lake Carmel was a member of the NYPD’s elite Emergency Services Unit who died in the South Tower. He left behind a wife, Ann, and their son, Barry, who followed his father and is now an NYPD officer. Driscoll’s name is well known throughout northern Westchester and Putnam counties, in part for a Fraternal Order of Police Lodge formed in his honor that now has hundreds of members.

Silke, her husband Bill and their children Bill Jr., 18, and Christina, 14, drove into Manhattan on Sunday afternoon from their Carmel home. Michael Driscoll drove in from Wappingers with his wife, Keri, and their daughters Kaitlin, 8, and Shannon, 12.

They arrived separately at 1 Police Plaza and were driven by police to Ground Zero, arriving about 45 minutes before a scheduled 6:30 p.m. museum appointment. The siblings, their spouses and children gathered at the reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial in the footprint of the South Tower, where their brother’s name — Stephen Patrick Driscoll — is etched alongside that of his partner, Sgt. John Coughin.

The families mingled and Silke and Michael Driscoll spoke of their anticipation. They entered the museum a little after 6:30 p.m. as the sun began to set and temperatures dipped into the low 60s while hundreds of tourists milled about the memorial.

Silke said she’s glad the museum is done but wishes her late parents, Pat and Letitia, were here to see it.

“When you go in, it’s very quiet, respectful. You reflect on things. It just brought everything back to that day,” she said. “It’s very quiet. It’s surreal. It’s very well done. Unfortunately, my brother is part of it but he loved his job and he died doing something he loved to do.”

To read profiles of the more than 200 people with ties to the Lower Hudson Valley who died on 9/11: Lohud.com/sept11

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