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.