Riis Park Flight 587 Service Set
By Howard Schwach
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that a memorial service for those who died in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor last November 12 will be held at Riis Park on Tuesday, November 12 at 9:17 a.m., the precise time that the Airbus A300-600 corkscrewed into Beach 131 Street, after losing its tail and its two engines.
The service will include prayers and a moment of silence and is expected to last approximately 45 minutes.
The families of the victims will then be taken by bus to the crash site at Beach 131 Street and Newport Avenue. According to the mayor’s office, the time at the site will be used for "the families to have a moment to be able to rest a flower or whatever, to pay their respects."
Many families, however, are not happy with the mayor’s plans.
Some said that they would bypass the Riis Park service and go directly to the crash site.
"Our blood is there," Carla Hernandez, who lost her in-laws in the crash, told reporters. "If we are permitted, that is where we want to be."
Hernandez is an official of the Committee in Memory of Flight 587, one of three victim’s organizations that is vying to represent the victim’s families.
Moses Perez, executive director of the Alianza Dominica, said that he wants the memorial service held at the crash site.
"The consensus among the families is that we are going to Belle Harbor," Perez said. "That is where the soul of my loved one is."
Perez told reporters that it was important for relatives and others to be at Belle Harbor at 9:17 a.m., not at Riis Park.
Both spokespersons also complained about the duration of the memorial.
"The mayor has planned a short and sweet ceremony, and that is not appropriate," said a spokesperson for the Committee in Memory of Flight 587.
"The memorial for September 11 was not rushed, and neither should this one be," Perez said.
Monsignor Martin Geraghty, the pastor of St. Francis de Sales Church on Beach 129 Street said that he would be holding a "small" memorial service for the five local residents who died on the ground. None of those arrangements were made pubic at press time.