LOWER MAKEFIELD >> At the request of 9-11 widow Ellen Saracini, the board of supervisors on Feb. 4 directed its parks and recreation board to come up with an appropriate tribute to the late U.S. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick to include at the Garden of Reflection.
Saracini, who helped lead the fundraising and construction of the 9-11 Garden of Reflection, said the late Congressman was instrumental in securing state status for the memorial and obtaining a $750,000 federal grant, which allowed the 9-11 families and the community to complete and dedicate the Garden for the fifth year anniversary in 2006.
“For Lower Makefield Township, Mike’s work benefitted the Garden of Reflection and the township by supporting its position as the icon it has become,” said Saracini, whose husband, Victor, was piloting United 175 when it was hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001 and flown into the World Trade Center.
“That is why it’s only fitting that the Lower Makefield community and the Garden of Reflection, honor former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick’s work and stalwart support of both LMT and the Garden of Reflection.”
Saracini asked the board to consider allowing, at no cost to the township, the erection of a street sign at the flag circle containing the words “Mike Fitzpatrick Way.”
“In this way Mike and his legacy will do what he always has - lead people to the 9-11 Memorial Garden of Reflection so they can experience its light and hope, and in that, grant Mike his final wish - ‘Make me an instrument of thy peace.’”
After listening to Saracini's presentation, several of the supervisors spoke fondly of the late Congressman, including John Lewis, adding he doesn’t have an issue with finding a way to appropriately honor the late Congressman for his service over the years.
“I had the opportunity to work with him on occasion and I was deeply saddened by his loss. He fought the cancer valiantly for a long time and he had a unique and special grace about him,” said Lewis. “I am honored to say he worked against me at times, but he did it in a way that I still liked him as a person and would be more than willing to work with him. He was a very special gentleman and we are very fortunate to have public servants of his grace.”
Supervisor Dan Grenier highly recommended that Saracini work with Parks and Recreation Director Monica Tierney and others “to see what other options there may be" in terms of tributes. "You might see something that might be more fitting” than just a street sign, he said.
“I only had the pleasure of meeting the former Congressman one time when he knocked on my door while campaigning for several township supervisors. “He had a level of charm and genuineness about him,” said Grenier.
Added supervisor Suzanne Blundi, “The Fitzpatrick family hails from Queens as I’m sure you all know. I think it’s a wonderful idea (to honor him) and I fully support whatever effort it takes to get this done.”
“Your next task is to speak to the recreation board,” said Chairman Fred Weiss. “I’m sure this board will be favorable with whatever comes out of it.”
Saracini thanked the supervisors for their willingness to work on an appropriate tribute. “I know the Fitzpatrick family will appreciate it that the Garden and Lower Makefield Township is honoring his memory.”
After the meeting, Saracini said "Mike has touched so many lives and I’m thrilled, but not surprised, that the Board of Supervisors would agree that we remember Mike in Lower Makefield at a place where he has shown great support to honor and remember those we lost on September 11th. What better a place for him to be memorialized as well."