Written by Wendy Karpel Kreitzman Friday, 16 September 2011 00:00
This past Sunday afternoon, September 11, 2011, the Clergy Association of Great Neck held a memorial service to “remember” the tragic events of September 11, 2011, and “honor” the six “lost” from Great Neck. This 10th anniversary of 9/11 service, held at the Jonathan L. Ielpi Firefighters Park in Great Neck Plaza, honored and remembered Peter C. Frank, Jonathan Lee Ielpi (FDNY), Frederick Kuo, Jr., Richard Y. C. Lee, Andrew Stergiopoulos, and Joshua S. Vitale … “and all the innocent victims of the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001.”
Arranged by Monsignor Brendan P. Riordan of St. Aloysius Church, the Monsignor opened the ceremonies and announced the long list of public officials from the villages, the Town of North Hempstead, Nassau County, New York State and the federal government. Other members of the local clergy offered invocations, prayers and poems. Anne Marie Ielpi Holleran (Jon Ielpi’s sister) presented remembrances of those lost.
Local musicians presented musical offerings and the Na’aleh, The Women’s Chorus, performed The 23rd Psalm. A medley of songs were performed by high school students from both Great Neck North High School and Great Neck South High School.
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli presented the keynote address. A longtime Great Neck resident, Comptroller DiNapoli had attended Ground Zero services in the morning but chose his hometown as the place to “remember” the afternoon of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. He began by speaking of the sadness of this day and of how Great Neck’s Lee Ielpi, father of hero Jon Ielpi and a leading force in efforts at Ground Zero, had spoken of how there can be no closure for the families of those lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
And Comptroller DiNapoli spoke of how different everyone is today, how there is a “before 9/11” and an “after 9/11.” He said that today we are “much more cautious, alert, and tense.” And he said: “September 11, 2001 will always be with us … it’s an undeniable part of who we are … we learned our capacity for good … we stood tall and brave … out of the worst of human nature sprang the best …”
Comptroller DiNapoli also noted how all across the country, people came to the aid of New York. And he said that “Our generosity and courage spread through the world.” Now, he said, we must focus on “building up.”
The comptroller also spoke of “giving back” and “our ability to join together, to take care of one another.” This, he said, is the best way to honor those lost. “Life is precious,” said Tom DiNapoli.
Ending, Comptroller DiNapoli spoke of “compassion, sacrifice and endurance … the qualities that illuminae the way as we grow stronger.”
The entire service began and ended with the impressive lines of firefighters from Great Neck’s Alerts, Vigilants and Manhasset-Lakeville fire companies … guarding Great Neck, as they always do. And at the very end, the “Parade of Flags” marched through the park, with honor guards from various local organizations.
Ending the service, Monsignor Riordan thanked all who had helped to present the beautiful 9/11 Memorial Service. Adam Samansky, son of the late Mayor J. Leonard Samansky of Saddle Rock, played Taps. Great Neck’s own Nikki Blonsky led one and all as she sang Gold Bless America.
Participating clergy included: All Saints Church, Church of God, Community Church of Great Neck, Community Church of Little Neck, First Baptist Church of Great Neck, Global Harmony House, Lake Success Jewish Center, Little Neck Jewish Center, St. Aloysius R.C. Church, St. Paul’s A.M.E. Zion Church, Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, Temple Emanuel of Great Neck, Temple Isaiah of Great Neck, Temple Israel of Great Neck, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy chaplain.