NEW YORK (AP) Mourners from New York to the Dominican Republic gathered in separate ceremonies yesterday to grieve for the passengers of American Airlines Flight 587, the Dominican Republic-bound airliner that plunged into a suburban neighborhood shortly after takeoff.
“Oh Lord, we come before you with open hearts, with broken hearts,” said the Rev. Ruben Diaz, who gave the invocation in New York after the singing of the Dominican and U.S. national anthems.
New York”s outdoor, interfaith ceremony took place at Riis Park, about two miles from the crash site on the oceanfront Rockaway Peninsula of Queens. Mourners included Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Gov. George Pataki and U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
It was intended to unite two communities that had little contact before the Nov. 12 crash. Many of the dead came from Washington Heights, a neighborhood that is home to the largest Dominican community outside the Dominican Republic. Belle Harbor, roughly 13 miles away, is largely Irish, Italian and Jewish.
“What binds us together today … are the tears, a river of tears day and night,” said Rabbi Michael Miller. “We shed rivers of tears for brothers and sisters, friends and lovers, whose companionship has been torn away so suddenly.”
About 1,000 people attended the New York service, including Adriana Objio, who lost her father, Sigfrido Objio, a former Dominican ambassador to the United Nations. She said she was especially moved when tenor Ronan Tynan sang “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears,” a song about Irish immigrants at Ellis Island.
“I thought of the Dominican Republic and my father, and that we won”t ever see him again,” she said.
Some 1,500 miles away, grief-stricken relatives crowded into the tiny Altagracia Catholic Church in Ojo de Agua, Dominican Republic.
About 100 people packed the church and spilled out into the yard behind for the funeral Mass remembering Jose Vicente Infante, 38, the first victim of Flight 587 to be returned to the island.
“Where are you, Vicentito?” his brother, 42-year-old Radames Infante, sobbed to a picture of Jose Vicente pasted to the outside of his blue coffin. “I didn”t even get to see his face. They could only identify him by his fingerprints.”
Infante lived in both countries. On his last trip to the United States, the car salesman was scouting for vehicles he could import to the dealership in the capital, Santo Domingo.