Residents, first responders, military personnel and local officials turned out in droves over the weekend to witness the blessing of a piece of World Trade Center steel that was recovered from Ground Zero.
The steel will become part of the Tower of Freedom Military Monument, which is being built at .
"It was an honor and privilege to be a part of it," said Towers of Freedom co-founder Frank Haskell, a retired New York City firefighter, who lost two cousins in the attacks.
The blessing took place prior to a mass at St. Rose of Lima Church that was preceded by a procession down Merrick Road.
It was led by motorcyclists from the Patriot Riders, a group that often attends military funerals, Haskell said. Bikers from the FDNY, NYPD and Veterans organizations joined the Patriot Riders.
The procession also included tanks from the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale.
"They originally told us there would be three vehicles and they showed up with twelve," Haskell said. "We were flabbergasted."
The two-and-a-half foot steel beam arrived at the church in the back of a van the Haskell family donated to an organization that takes the families of first responders who've fallen ill to the hospital.
An honor guard brought the steel inside.
Haskell said it will be placed under a bench at the completed memorial that will remain empty, in honor of those lost on 9/11 and in the subsequent wars.
The ex-firefighter, who teamed up with former NYPD Det. Tommy Smith, and Navy veteran Danny Cain to plan the memorial, said the idea to put the steel under the bench is based on England's Stone of Scone which is placed under the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey when a new monarch is crowned.
A poem will be placed on the bench, which will read:
"Surrounded by children's laughter and spirited crowds that roar; We honor all those who fell at home, or the battlefield of war. As you visit one with others, or peacefully on your own; Embrace our eternal presence, for you are never here alone."