Family, friends and former colleagues of retired NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale celebrated his life last week at a street dedication ceremony on what would have been his 56th birthday.
Natale helped frightened and dust-covered people fleeing the devastation over bridges to Brooklyn and onto ferries to New Jersey following the terror attacks on the World Trade Center. He also stood guard at the gates around Ground Zero in the days that followed and worked in lower Manhattan for several months.
He died after a long battle with 9/11-related brain cancer at his South Huntington home on May 4.
The ceremony opened with the presentation of the colors by the NYPD Honor Guard, followed by NYPD Police Officer Makiah Brown, who sang the National Anthem, and NYPD Chaplain Deputy Chief Monsignor David Cassato, who delivered the invocation.
“Not only are we gathered here to honor Officer Mark J. Natale on what would have been his 56th birthday, exactly one week ago was Mayra and Mark’s 27th wedding anniversary,” said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci.
“Friends and former colleagues contributed pieces of police uniform apparel so that retired Officer Natale would be buried in dress uniform; the South Huntington
School District lowered their flags to half-staff district-wide, issued a service award posthumously and inducted Mark, a district employee during his retirement from the NYPD, into their Hall of Fame; while comments came pouring in on the Town’s social media channels upon hearing news of this street dedication, with beautiful praise for Mark as a wonderful person, a gentleman, and words of comfort for the Natale family.”
Mayra Natale, Officer Natale’s widow, delivered a moving speech to close the ceremony with their children Dominick, Catherine and Lauren standing behind her, along with Officer Natale’s sisters Denise Pileggi, Debra Diem, and extended family, thanking everyone involved in honoring her husband’s memory, from the Town, and South Huntington School district officials to the NYPD and members of the Huntington community who came together to ease the burdens her husband and their family faced throughout his struggle with cancers related to his serving at Ground Zero.
Following the ceremony, Officer Natale’s family hosted a gathering on Iceland Drive celebrating his life.