Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 16 September 2011 00:00
The entire memorial ceremony was under the direction of Town of North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross. Gross announced at the introduction of the program that a piece of steel that had been at Ground Zero, had been delivered to her home at 3 a.m. that morning. This particular piece has been all around the country as a stark reminder of the horror of that day.
Gross said, “Many people have asked me where does 9-11 fall into our history. It is a question that I am constantly asked. It becomes a piece of our history … and even with the passing of 10 years it becomes a day that is entirely different than any other.
“Our assumptions about the meaning of our life were terribly shaken that morning. How can 10 years have passed so quickly and despite the passing of 10 years, it feels like only yesterday. We will never look at a firefighter or a police officer the same way. We will never forget where we were on that September morning. Our faith and our capacity for human kindness was lifted by the courage of those people, who instead of running away ran into the smoke of those burning buildings.
“We grieved as a community for those heroes as the bagpipes sounded for those who were lost. The melody of those bagpipes echoed the grief that each of us felt in our own hearts and now that sound has become part of our collective memory. It is a testament that so many people are here this morning to the goodness in all of us and we have to remember the goodness in all of us amid the worst disaster in American history.”
Gross continued, “So we come together today as a community to support, to reflect and to be committed for another year to always, always remember.”
Gross then called upon Rabbi Anchelle Perl of the Chabad of Mineola, to bless the gathering with the invocation.
Rabbi Perl, who delivered a stirring invocation, said, “A painful anniversary as we gather to mark a very sad day. A time for remberance when nearly 3,000 people were murdered 10 years ago in those attacks. Each loss created a painful void for family, friends and our great nation. Right after the tragedy we came together as a nation, we stood as one in our grief unity and yes, for our country. After all our value system was under attack. It is time for recommitment. We must not fault in the defense of what we aspire to -freedom, human dignity, religious purism and mutual respect. Our approach to tragedy has always been two-fold. On the one hand we grieve. There is no way any human being can ignore the terrible and tremendous pain being suffered by so many people. However, we do not allow the grief to become all consuming. We must turn tragedy into triumph and ashes into rebuilding. We cannot allow those who would destroy us to be successful by being paralyzed by our sorrow. Let each one of us find ways in acts of goodness, kindness of charity and prayer. We do not lock our doors in fear. We will not be treated to hiding and grief, rather we will commerate 9-11 filled with sadness but also with purpose, with tears, but also with optimism and joy. This is the only fitting memorial for the thousands of lives shattered and lost. Fellow Americans, these vicious acts of missiles were aimed at humanity’s desire to fulfill God’s given mission in this world live in a peaceful and civilized manner. No, we will not allow our spirits to be broken. We will find the inner strength to rise above this black day in the history of our world. Today our enemies have reminded us, in the most devastating manner, that all we have is each other and our shared desire to live in peace. We must stand together in a united front to protect our world. Let us unite through the acts of goodness and kindness towards each other. May we merit that this coming year will bring world peace and redemption. God Bless America!”
The Albertson American Legion then posted the colors for the event, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by North Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Charles Berman.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman then spoke about the devastating effect of 9-11 on the town and the loss that was suffered and that the town lost 61 people on that day.
He said, “We look around and it is such a peaceful setting, in a beautiful location. I have the honor and privilege of going to various communities and commemorations. Yesterday Westbury, this morning Great Neck, this afternoon Williston Park, Manhasset and Port Washington, all over the town. All over the county, Long Island and state people come together because everyone wants to know that we are part of a commemoration that says we are something larger than ourselves. We are a community, we are a country, we stand for something important. This is not about people dying. This is about a horrific act that was perpetrated against a country, against a people because of who we are and what we stand for. That we stand for something so much larger than individual selves. We stand for freedom, for democracy, we stand for hope, we stand for opportunity. We in this country come from lands from all over the world. People of all faiths, people of all cultures, people of all kinds come together and make a home in this great country and they can do anything that their talents allow. We have our struggles, we have our limitations and yet, there is always opportunity. Ten years ago our lives changed, I’m sure as it did for those who experienced December 7 when World War 11 was initiated. Ten years ago our lives changed because we lost a degree of innocence. As we always kind of knew because there were people filled with hate who could do horrible acts all over the world, but it came to our community and into our homes. We were always aware that people do bad things, but to see it and feel it on such a large scale. Yet, it didn’t diminish us one bit, if anything we grew stronger. We realized that we are a community and that we are a nation and we are proud of who we are. We are not a hateful people, but we are a resolute people. We do not bow down, but stand up. We are a people of faith and we are a people of community and we are a nation of law. So we understand that just because there are bad people in this world we will not be diminished and brought down. We will open our doors to all who want to be part of this great nation and help make it greater, whatever your faith, wherever you are from. You choose to be an American because you come to our shores and participate and you become part of the fabric of who we are as a people. We do that year after year, decade after decade and generation after generation. This country continues to grow in strength and purpose, community after community. We have a piece of steel that was at the center of Ground Zero, and that brings us closer, because we were all there, no matter where we were, there at that moment at Ground Zero. No matter where you were in this great country, you were there at Ground Zero at that moment and we didn’t quite realize what was happening and we realized that something horrific was happening. But, we were there as a nation and we were brought there by the people who did this act. They brought us all to Ground Zero and they bring us there today. We didn’t choose to be there and whatever threats abound we are still there today because we are here as one. That is the story of America and that is the story of that piece of steel. So let me say simply, God bless all those who perished and their families and God bless America. ”
Kaiman then acknowledged and thanked Town Clerk Leslie Gross, Receiver of Taxes Charles Berman and the town councilmen who were present, Thomas Dwyer, Fred Pollack and councilwomen Lee Seeman and Kitty Poons. He added that councilpersons Angelo Ferrara and Viviana Russel were attending other events. He introduced County Legislator Wayne Wink and he said that Legislator Judi Bosworth was at another event in Great Neck.
The councilpersons at the event then came to the podium and read the names of those in their communities who perished on 9-11, which was very moving.
The ceremony was interspersed with various musical interludes performed by the Multicultural Peace Mission, the Long Island Conservatory and then ended with 12-year-old Corey McCluskey who performed a bagpipe solo of Amazing Grace.