Underneath the big, blue bright weather we came together, members of the fire department smartly attired in their blue uniforms, elected representatives, friends, family and clergy to christen our new ambulance.
It was a fortuitous conjunction of circumstances that on the day we were dedicating the new ambulance we were also observing "Medical Emergency Service Week" in honor of the life-saving efforts of all our volunteers. It was especially gratifying to dedicate the ambulance in memory of Noel Bebe and Ralph Gode, who served our fire department with a distinction and devotion fondly remembered by their peers.
When I think of our fire department in one word, above all others comes to mind, action. For action has eloquence all unto itself. When the chips are down - trust only movement.
Scarcely a day passes when our fire department does not ennoble itself by rendering some indispensable service. That is why the dedication of this ambulance is a symbol beyond measure and language - for it embodies the trust, confidence and hope of an entire community.
In the years ahead, it will give comfort to the afflicted, succor to the suffering and not infrequently sanctuary even from death itself.
A week later the village board and I attended the annual Fire Department Induction Ceremony at Jericho Terrace to pay tribute to outgoing Chief Joseph O'Grady and to welcome incoming Chief Kevin Kelleher. In the presence of the entire department I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this group of dedicated volunteers who have challenged themselves in ways that surely surprised even them. In the process they have discovered reservoirs of strength and courage they would have never known.
I wish we had a thousand more like them in our ranks. I hope others would consider joining and testing their own mettle. We should all aspire to mine the deepest drafts of human potential and feel that sacred inspiration that will make us wonder on how much we can do if we are always doing.
In a self-revelatory moment, reflecting back on his monumental achievements, Michelangelo observed that the danger is not that we will set our goals too high and won't achieve them but too low and will.
They have a wonderful program at Floral Park-Bellerose Elementary School called "Lessons for Life" in which the values of courage, loyalty, industry and perseverance are studied and celebrated.
Under the auspices of Ms. Wolfring, a sixth grade teacher at Bellerose, and Ms. Helfman, the school district's social worker, the children reached out to Holocaust survivors living on Long Island to learn about their experiences so long ago but so freshly remembered. A few of the survivors were no older at the time than the sixth graders they were speaking to. Some, indeed, were orphaned. Their stories of living through the Nazi death camps and afterward coming to terms about surviving when millions like them did not was riveting and unforgettable.
The whole project was marvelously organized beginning with the children sending questionnaires to the Holocaust survivors about their remembrances, which was made into a memoir memorializing each person's life experience.
The stories were read at an assembly and the emotions that surfaced were deeply affecting. The connection between the children and the survivors was nearly dramatic in its resonance and immediacy. Generations separated their ages, thousands of miles the places of their birth and most of the children were not of the Jewish faith. But they shared a common humanity and that was all that mattered.
One could not but be moved by the profound gratitude these surviving few felt by being recognized and understood in such a public way and by an audience so young. The events they lived through occurred more than 60 years in the past but one sensed that the retelling of the tragic tale was still very much a healing experience.
It was also evident that it had a powerful impact on the children as they began to grasp an enormity beyond their previous imaginations. Part of the struggle toward maturity is the unveiling of the cloak of innocence that makes childhood so endearing. It is a process, of course, we all must experience personally and through the lessons of history taught by our parents, our teachers and, if we're fortunate, the living testimony of these poignant survivors.
The most important lesson is that good is stronger than evil. For while this wound to civilization will be felt, should be felt, as long as man has a memory on earth it is not their torturers ideology that survives. Their hatred can only breathe in the shadows and live in dark hovels; it could not survive the sunlight even in the soil it sprung from. Today, it is the survivors' voices we hear, their emotions we feel and their conscience that has prevailed for the good of the world.
On Sunday, June 3, Trustee Jim Rhatigan and I joined with a church full of worshippers to celebrate both the 95th anniversary of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church and the joyous occasion of Pastor Albert Martin's 30th anniversary of Ordination of Minister of this precious flock.
Next year we will be celebrating the centennial of the Incorporation of our village and it is interesting to note how closely these two anniversaries coincide and have nurtured each other over the ensuing years and decades.
Nearly 100 years ago, Floral Park was a budding community with many and various needs that the leaders of our village strove to meet: Our businessmen brought commerce within our borders, our educators brought forth schools, our engineers designed our roads and highways and our government brought forth the laws we would live under.
All were vital in supporting a growing and thriving population. But man also has a spiritual nature and the burning question became who would bring God to this rapidly changing prairie - to this quaint dwelling of flowers and trees a stone's throw from the busy, burgeoning metropolis to its west. Yes, who in this growing milieu would bring God?
One of the early churches that fulfilled the spiritual hunger of these early settlers of our community was Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. But while an architect can build a church it takes a congregation to make it a house of worship - a place of prayer.
So it was entirely appropriate that on the morning of June 3 that our village paused and gave honor for the deep and abiding Christian commitment of those who in faith began the work of this church and for all those who have given so unselfishly during these many years to help this church grow and thrive and our community with it.
No one has given more of himself than Pastor Albert Martin. To this congregation, to this community, he has been a steadfast friend, a good shepherd, a wise counselor and during the stormy billows of life an anchor and compass to ground and guide us. His life and service have been a blessing and a gift, whose grace and humanity have touched so many lives of so many faiths. Congratulations and Godspeed to Pastor Martin and Christ Lutheran Evangelical Church.
The trustees, Chamber of Commerce President Terry Whalen and myself congratulated two new businesses on Tulip Avenue. The new owner of the Tulip Bake Shop is Shane Mognagh where the art of baking is a family tradition. Shane's mother ran a bakery where Shane was born in Ireland.
Also the home of the old Villa D'Este is now the Pavillion, a restaurant specializing in Mediterranean food. Its owner, Nick Tetenes, hosted a wonderful gathering to celebrate the opening of his new restaurant. We wish both these proprietors success and a long stay in Floral Park.