9/11 observance: Coaldale remembers native son
Pastor Steven Nemeth addresses a 9/11 rememberance at VFW Post 6982 in Coaldale on Tuesday. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app for more from the event. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Josie Ferugio Yeneshosky of New Philadelphia, whose nephew Michael Ferugio died in the 9/11 attacks, reads a poem as Coaldale Mayor Herb Whildin looks on. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
Len Hoben, right, distributes stars from retired flags to veterans following the 9/11 remembrance at Coaldale VFW Post 6982 on Tuesday. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app for photos and a video. CHRIS REBER/TIMES NEWS
A native son of Schuylkill County was among the 2,977 victims who died in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Michael David Ferugio, who was born in Palo Alto, had missed the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by mere minutes because he was out to lunch. He’d end up taking a different job away from the World Trade Center. The morning of 9/11, he left home for a special meeting, but he never told his wife where the meeting took place.
“On Sept. 11, he wore a suit and told his wife he had a meeting. The meeting was on the 105th floor of the south tower,” said VFW Post 6982 Post Commander Mike Vigoda.
Some time after the attacks, Ferugio’s remains were recovered and identified.
Now 17 years later, Ferugio’s memory is kept alive by his loved ones and his fellow Schuylkill Countians. On Tuesday, Coaldale residents gathered at the VFW Post to mark the anniversary of the attacks and remember him.
“Mike will always be remembered for his love of life by his family and friends and all who came in contact with him,” said Vigoda, who was once Ferugio’s Little League coach.
Ferugio’s aunt, Josie Ferugio Yeneshosky of New Philadelphia, attended the ceremony on behalf of her family. She read a poem which looked at 9/11 from the Statue of Liberty’s perspective. The statue was unable to shield her eyes and kept the torch of liberty held high throughout the attack.
“How dignified and beautiful on a day so many died. I wonder what she thought … I know she must have cried,” Yeneshosky said.
In his remarks, Mayor Herb Whildin said all Americans should dedicate a small portion of their daily lives to make sure America and the world never forget what 9/11 means. He read a poem which used the colors of the flag as a symbol of the country’s resilience in the face of the 9/11 attacks.
“Red for valor and the blood that fell. White for purity Our heroes tell. Blue for the justice That will be done, Proving once more These colors never run.”
Coaldale Fire Department Chief Steven Polischak placed the emphasis on the 400-plus emergency workers who were killed in the attacks, including 343 firefighters. The fire department carries the number “343” on the sleeves of their shirts.
“We’re in the little town of Coaldale, but there’s a whole big world. It’s great to see our little town have something like this,” Polischak said.
Coaldale native Len Hoben praised the town for its veterans’ memorial which is among the most extensive in any small town.
He took pride in the fact that the military named a ship after Coaldale in World War II. But while he praised the town for its respect for military veterans and first responders, he said the country as a whole has forgotten 9/11.
“We said we’d never forget. I believe we have. How many school field trips go to ground zero?” Hoben said.
The Rev. Steve Nemeth of First Congregational Church of Coaldale hails from the Washington, D.C., area.
He heard numerous stories of workers at the Pentagon who happened to stay home on the day of the attacks, potentially saving their lives.
He recalled having to tell his son that his grandfather, who worked in military intelligence, was going to be OK after fears that his workplace would be targeted.
“This day holds a very somber place in my heart, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this,” he said.
Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage recalled having the opportunity to sing at a ceremony dedicating a Little League field in Ferugio’s honor.
He said Ferugio wasn’t just a good son to his family, he typified the selflessness that so many Schuylkill County residents display — without asking for anything in return.
“Michael was a working person coming from a great family that was taught the right thing — that when people need help, you go and assist those people, Halcovage said.
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