Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 16 September 2011 00:00
The event was held at Williston Park Little League Kelleher Field at the Little League’s Day of Remberance and was orchestrated by Deputy Mayor William Darmstadt.
John Hogan was the emcee for the event that started with a stirring version of the Star Spangled Banner as sung by Pastor Chet Easton of the First Presbyterian Church of Mineola.
After the Star Spangled Banner Hogan said, “As a people and as a nation we mark specific dates whether they are remembered for their joy or for their infamy. As milestone anniversaries approach, these dates take on greater significance and that is certainly true on this somber day. It is almost impossible for us to imagine that it has been 10 years since that horrific day, the day that changed the world forever. For those most affected that change has left a scar that will never fade for a loved one that will never be forgotten. It is for this reason that we gather at our 9-11 Memorial Garden to remember all who were lost to the senseless violence of September 11, especially those from our Little League family and the Williston Park community. As we have done for the past three years, we come together today as a community to offer our love and support, our prayers and our sympathy and most importantly, today, to renew our annual vow to you to always remember those who were lost, especially your loved ones for whom we mourn. For our opening prayer this afternoon, please welcome Pastor Tom Fisher, of St. John’s Lutheran Church.”
Pastor Fisher said, “We are here today to remember an event that is actually unique in American history. A time where evil was something we are still having trouble getting our arms around.”
Pastor Fisher then left the podium and went to where a piece of metal from Ground Zero rested.
He went back to the podium and said, “A piece of metal. Not very big and not very pretty and none of us would want it in our homes. It is a piece of history that is very important for us this day. In our congregation, and maybe yours, we read from the very end of the book of Genesis this morning, where Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him and sold him into slavery. He spent years in a dungeon and was almost killed by his captors and in the end what does he say? What was meant from evil, God turns into goodness. There are two ways that we can think about this disaster, we need to remember all those who were killed, but we also need to remember the good that was put to use for mankind. Those who ran toward the buildings instead of away from them. These guys who are here,” and he motioned to the Williston Park Fire Department and the Junior Firefighters, those in the American Legion. He continued, “Some of them who are upstate this very moment cleaning up from the flood. Some of them protect our homes from hail and floods and wind. We have some members who are downtown today, who could not be with us, who are more than willing to continue to run into those buildings.”
The next speaker was Mayor of Williston Park Paul Ehrbar who said, “Honored guests, dignitaries, clergy and residents on this somber remembrance of the 10th Anniversary of 9-11. I am honored to represent the village of Williston Park on this day and my board of trustees are all here with me. Deputy Mayor William Darmstadt, trustees Barbara Alanga, Kevin Rynne and Terry Thomann. I would like to especially thank Deputy Mayor Bill Darmstadt. This was his plan that he developed more than four years ago. It has gotten better every year as the plants grow and he was able to secure a piece of metal from the World Trade Center and he developed this program. It has grown every year and it is a tribute to all the work that he has done. John Hogan is doing a great job as the emcee, so thank you. Many speakers have spoken over the past ten years and it is difficult for me to try to add to these comments either before me or after me. Each speaker has spoken more eloquently than I. I am not a Bill Clinton or Ronald Regan, but do offer my thoughts on this day. Personally, I am fortunate not having lost any family members. My daughter, son and daughter-in-law were all in New York City and all escaped without injury. This is truly a national tragedy; the events have impacted local areas throughout the world including the Village of Williston Park. Ironically, I am keenly aware of the impact of Williston Park because my wife, Doreen, was mayor at the time. Besides honoring all those affected by 9-11 we are specifically honoring all those in Williston Park, who lost their lives that day. Of the five, I knew only one personally and that was Janice Blaney. Janice was a hard-working woman who, like most of us, dealt with the daily struggles that life brings our way. Sadly, at the time of her death, life had begun to move in a positive direction for her. To this day, Janice is the first face that comes to mind when the talk turns to 9-11. My working with Janice was short, yet the impact with her dying in this tragedy has had a profound effect on me. I can only imagine the anguish of those who lost family members and loved ones that day. As we look around the Little League field with the Boy Scouts, the American Legion, the flags and the pool, this is the American way of life. This is what the terrorists were trying to attack that day and send a message but obviously the message was not received because we are here and we are bigger and better than ever. Although it has been difficult, the resilience of our people in our country and village have the strength to move forward. Two comments I have heard have bothered me immensely. Two separate commentators have referred to the “celebration” of 9-11 and the “festivities” of 9-11. Neither word is in anyway appropriate. We must continue to honor all those families impacted by this event including those who continue to suffer because of 9-11. Keep them in your prayers. God Bless them, our Armed Forces, those involved in the ongoing war on terrorism and God bless America.”
The next speaker was Father Kevin Dillon of St. Aidan’s Roman Catholic Church who eloquently said, “I think of one of the things about 9-11 that probably we will never get around. Mysteries confound us all the time. For us as Christians it is the Trinity which is The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit and we rely on faith for that. But the mystery of human cruelty and of the vicious kind of attacks on another and getting pleasure out of it, that we will never understand and that is what happened 10 years ago But, there is another side to that and we saw that with the first responders. The people in office buildings that stopped in stairwells when they heard others crying for help and putting themselves in danger for the sake of another human being. And, they did that with valor and that shows us that goodness always triumphs over evil. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”
Town of North Hempstead Jon Kaiman was present and he once again delivered some words condemning the attack of 9-11 and remembering those who perished, especially those from the town.
The names of those who were lost was ready by deputy mayor Darmstadt. He prefaced the reading by commenting on a recent show about whether a Mosque should be constructed near the site of 9-11. The commentator said, “It is time for America to ‘get over’ 9-11.” Darmstadt continued, “Unlike Pearl Harbor, where we knew and defeated our enemy, the cowardly attack on 9-11, the Pentagon and Flight No. 93 was done by Muslim extremists. We still have cells of these extremists blending in, waiting to carry out yet another attack. I don’t know how the families who are victims of those attacks are supposed to ‘get over’ losing their loved ones who were just going to work on that beautiful day. I don’t know how the first responders, many of whom have died, and are still dying from illnesses caused as a result of working around the site of the attack can ‘get over’ 9-11. Since we have held our first memorial I have spoken to those who have lost loved ones and to those survivors and I don’t think they are ready, anytime soon, to ‘get over’ 9-11. I hope and pray our government will keep up the pressure, or history will definitely repeat itself.”
New York State Senator Jack Martins came to the podium and said, “Most of us know exactly where we were on September 11, 2001. We can state with clarity when we first heard the news of the attack on the World Trade Center and here we are 10 years later. Our country was attacked, the Pentagon was attacked and a little town in Pennsylvania was attacked and not because of anyone in those particular areas but it was an attack on our culture and our way of life. But our resolve has stood pat. Don’t get me wrong, we all have friends, neighbors and loved ones who we miss dearly each and every day. We and society have perservered. We were able to come together ten years ago in ways we have never seen. We continue to teach the values of our great county. Here, as we stand 10 years later, we will never be the same, but in those characteristics that are so important and that which makes the society we are, we have perservered. We are stronger than we ever have been or that we were ever before. We are stronger in the commitment to each other and to our communities and we remain strong. In that fact, we know that the terrorists did not succeed. Thank you for the opportunity.”
The next speaker was Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt who said, “You know, 10 years ago we saw the worst in humanity in those who tried to destroy lives, but we also saw the best in humanity who gave their lives to help others. We should always remember. Yes, this is the 10th anniversary, but we should we remember it everyday. We do live in the greatest country in the world and let’s always be thankful for that and thank God and always remember to keep vigilant no matter what. Thank you.”
Reverend van Liew, of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection then spoke and said in her brief statement, “We remember those who tried to destroy the heart and soul of America and who did not succeed. We can live with wounds, we can live with scars, but most of all we remember that good overcomes evil.”
Nassau County Richard Nicolello said,”Thank you for asking me to join with you. This morning we saw moving ceremonies in Manhattan, but these ceremonies are just as important in the communities where the victims grew up and their children still live, in the ball fields where they played ball and in the churches where they worshipped. I want to commend the Little League for hosting this again, it is a wonderful thing you are doing for the community. Last week I went to the 9-11 ceremony at the county at Eisenhower Park and to get over to see the monument. It is a great place to spend some quiet time. The most moving part of the ceremony was the reading of the 349 residents who died that day by the family members. And, you can see that 10 years later the pain is still there and it is difficult to find the right words and by meeting and gathering like this, we as a community and we, as a nation, are grieving with you and we are saying we will never forget. Not in these 10 years, not in the next 10 years, or as long as there is a United States of America we will remember everyone who lost their lives on that day.”
The ceremony then ended with the playing of The Battle Hymn of The Republic as those in attendance filed out in silence.