A Memory of Grief

The following was an editorial that S.P. Alumni, Rob McDonough, wrote to Newsday in July of 1996.

A Memory of Grief

As a Suffolk County Lifeguard working at Smith Point Park for 5 summers, I attended the memorial ceremony held there last Monday for the families and friends of the TWA Flight 800 victims.

Although, I did not know anybody on the 747 that crashed just off our beautiful coastline, seeing their loved ones grieve made it impossible for me not to break down in tears for those poor innocent people as I helped them walk down the steps from the boardwalk and onto the sand. When they reached the water’s edge, I watched as they tossed roses into the Atlantic and some of them even threw themselves into the breaking waves. There are no words to describe the pain and anguish I witnessed that afternoon.

When the crowd had gone and there were only a few people left on the beach, I found myself standing beside a women trying to fill a small water bottle with ocean water. One of my supervisors, Timothy Delaney, approached the woman and asked if he could help her. She kindly accepted and Delaney walked out to waist-deep water and filled that bottle. She thanked him with a glossy eyed smile and told us a story of a girl who will live in my mind forever.

This woman’s daughter was 18 years old and also a lifeguard. She seemed very proud. But then a tear built up in her eye when she told us that her daughter’s body had not been recovered. As she showed us the picture of the beautiful face of a girl just one year my junior, I cried with her and realized that nothing could be worse than this.

Every time I dive through the breakers at Smith Point Park, whether it be a rescue or in pure fun, I will see the face of the beautiful, young girl. I hope that every person who reads this will take just a few moments to pray for the innocent victims of this tragedy and for their safe passage into heaven.

But, prayers are just as needed for the surviving victims of this terrible plane disaster-the grieving loved ones of those who died on Wednesday July 17, 1996.

July 17, 2016

  • May all their souls Rest In Peace always!! It will always be a memory of grief!! God bless my son Robert McDonough for his whole heart and grief he felt at this time!!????????????????

  • Dear Rob,
    Just as those families you comforted there on the beach on that harrowing day can never lost their grief, neither will they lose the image you placed here of your special swim gesture in memory of those souls lost that day at Smith Point, I was privileged to witness the strength and compassion shown to these devastated bereaved people, shown by Joe Dooley, Captain, RIP, Tim Delaney, you, Rob McDonough, and so many other young men whose names are in my heart after all these years. I believe that the spirits of those lost travelers and crew lend a feeling, a good one, to those who watch the waves and those who let the waves surround them. Thank you, Rob, for this lasting tribute, and I wish you continued happiness in the life you have now.

  • This is so very touching Aunt Jane, thank you for
    sending it.?
    The sadness & grief of that day in 1996, will always be in our hearts as will the memory of that woman’s 18yr. old daughter. May she RIP and may her Mother find some comfort in the sweet memories she has of her daughter. Amen ?

  • I carry this article with me and have read it a zillion times yesterday was a very hard day even after all the years!!!Miss you Jacque!

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