A remembrance wall for Thomas Butler, a Kings Park resident who was killed in the 9/11 attacks, will be unveiled this Sunday at the Kings Park Bluff.
The day marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks, but Butler’s brother Bill says to him it is only a number.
“Whether this was the first, second, it doesn’t matter. I am just hoping that as the years go on we are closer to a conclusion to this mess,” said Butler.
Butler says his Dad and brother worked endlessly at the site. His brother Stephen would work 12-hour shifts. One would work all night and the other in the day.
“It was like they handed a baton off. When one stopped, the other started. I am very proud of them,” he said.
They had a plan, said Butler. If the remains were found one would call the other and then they would get Bill and go down to the site. Thomas’ remains were never found. In 2002 they buried a ceremonial casket.
“I felt bad for them. They worked tirelessly and never got the chance to pull him out of there,” said Butler.
For the Butlers, the affects of 9/11 linger, not only in the passing of their brother, but in the physical ailments that now afflict both his father and brother Stephen, both of whom spent months at the pile in hopes of finding Thomas’ remains.
“My father is now home on a oxygen, he has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. He had a biopsy done on his lungs and they found concrete dust. My brother Stephen has problems. He has weird metal counts in his blood, arthritis. It affects him on a daily basis,” said Butler.
This Sunday the family will spend the day in Kings Park, forgoing a trip to Ground Zero. They will be at a special mass at the Church of St. Joseph on Sunday where Father Sean will bless the shields of firefighters and police. After they will attend a service at William T. Rogers School, where Butler is a keynote speaker, remembering those killed that day. They will visit the cemetery where they ceremonially buried Thomas and will then head to the 4 p.m. unveiling at the Bluff.
The wall will consist of bricks, purchased by those who wanted to leave an expression of sympathy. Proceeds of the sales will go to the Thomas Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund, which was established in 2003.
“4500 troops have been killed since 9/11. That is 1,000 more than those killed in the attacks. Get our boys and girls back home so the killing ends,” he said.