Duty, honor, country

| 13 Jun 2012 | 01:23

WARWICK — When Lt. Daniel Prial, the son of Greg and Ann Prial of Warwick, was an upper classman at U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he, like his fellow cadets, was asked to select a gem stone for his class ring.

Prial choose glass. The wearing of the class ring of a graduated class of the United States Military Academy has long held a special significance to those who wear it. It is the symbol of the common and special bond among the members of the “Long Gray Line.”

Cadets like Prial, who graduated from West Point this year, choose their ring several months in advance of graduation, selecting everything including size, color and stone. The rings are customized for each cadet and students can also pick out items for family members made to resemble their class ring.

Sept. 11, 2011 Why he choose glass for his class ring and his mother’s pendant is a story that began on Sept. 11, 2001, the fateful day of the terrorist attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon complex outside of Washington, DC.

Prial’s father, Greg Prial, is a New York City firefighter, currently a 31-year veteran serving with Ladder 33.

That Sept. 11, he was a NYFD lieutenant assigned to Engine 36 on 125th Street.

That company was initially ordered to cover for the numerous lower Westside firehouses that had responded that morning to the horrendous attack.

But later that day, Greg Prial headed for Ground Zero to begin a 30-day recovery assignment.

At that time, his son Danny was in the sixth grade at St. Stephen - St. Edward Elementary School.

It was the day the youngster decided he wanted to go to West Point, a dream later realized when he was appointed to the Academy by then U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and Rep. John Hall.

It was also when Danny Prial asked his father to bring something home from Ground Zero.

Ring and pendant And in answer to that request, Greg Prial brought home a chunk of thick glass from one of the windows of the World Trade Center.

A piece of that same glass has now been inserted as the stone in his son’s West Point Class ring and his wife’s identical pendant.

“I wear it every day,” said Ann Prial.

Lt. Daniel Prial will be home on leave until the first week of July when he will begin a series of training assignments including leadership and survival courses before two years of helicopter flight school at the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Ala.

“This is an amazing young man who followed through on his dream with determination and commitment for all of the right reasons,” said Warwick Village Trustee and family friend Eileen Patterson. “I’m so proud to have him as a neighbor, a fellow Warwickian, and a graduate not only of Warwick High School but of our wonderful little St. Stephen-St. Edward school.”

By Roger Gavan