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Hempstead Town’s 9/11 Memorial Focuses on Hope

Hempstead Town once again hosted a touching memorial to honor those who were lost on September 11, 2001 and bring comfort to all who were affected by the terrorist attacks. The sunrise ceremony, which was held on Friday, September 11, featured beautiful chrome replicas of the Twin Towers.

Fred McFarland of the Levittown Fire Department sang the National Anthem and John Rottkamp, commissioner of the Levittown Fire Department, rang the bell to signify moments of silence.

Reflections by Supervisor Kate Murray, members of the clergy and the brother of two September 11 heroes offered unique perspectives on the attacks of eight years ago, the victims, all those touched by the tragedy, as well as the legacy of the innocent victims of September 11. The release of white doves added an uplifting sense of serenity and peace to the ceremony.

The beach has long been an important part of the celebration of life’s joys and the commemoration of its tribulations. Eight years ago, hundreds of people gathered at this beach and looked west in disbelief as ominous clouds of smoke rose from the ashes of the twin towers,” said Supervisor Murray. “Each year since our city skyline and our lives were incredibly damaged on that unforgettable day we’ve gathered by the shores of the Atlantic to unite as a community, to comfort those enduring the loss of loved ones, to celebrate the lasting gifts and the inspiration that the victims of September 11 continue to provide and to offer hope for future generations.”

The Town of Hempstead lost 190 residents on September 11, 2001, explained Murray, adding, “The tally of civilians killed and rescue workers lost are merely figures that fail to tell the toll of the tragic events of September 11.”

Murray noted that in a few years the Freedom Tower will illuminate the Manhattan skyline and pay tribute to those who were killed, the resilience of our country’s collective spirit and the hope and promise of the children and grandchildren of September 11. “This hope and promise is the gift, indeed the legacy, that the victims of September 11 have passed on to all of us,” observed the supervisor. “While workers at the World Trade Center continue to stitch back together the torn pieces of fabric that comprised the heart of New York City, the wounds that tore through the soul of this nation are still deep, painful and slow to heal. But as we watch the Freedom Tower take shape, we are reminded that through life’s greatest adversities, we draw upon each other for the strength to carry on.”

Clergy members who spoke at the service included Reverend Eric Mallette of the Greater Second Baptist Church in Freeport, Cantor Galina Paliy of Temple Israel of Lawrence and Brother Kenneth Hoagland of Kellenberg Memorial High School. Kenneth Haskell of Wantagh, a member of the FDNY spoke about his two brothers, Timothy and Thomas Haskell, both firefighters, who died on September 11, 2001.

The Haskell family joined Supervisor Murray in casting the first carnations in the reflecting pool surrounding the stunning replica towers. All other attendees were invited to join them in casting the long-stemmed white flowers into the water in memory of those who were lost. Those gathered were also invited to write messages of remembrance on special September 11 tags attached to American flags provided by the town. Those flags were then placed at the base of the monument. Residents were also invited to partake in a silent vigil by the waters of the Atlantic.

In her closing remarks Supervisor Murray stated that the terrorists of September 11 had taken single phrases from religious writings and created a twisted text of hatred in a vain attempt to capture and destroy the soul of our nation. Murray noted that they failed to capture our souls because their faith was in reality a mask for evil.

“It is still so overwhelming to consider the loss we suffered when terrorists claimed 2,800 people at the World Trade Center. Yet out of that tragedy, we are left with one of life’s greatest resources- hope,” concluded Murray. “The hope is already being realized. The victims of September 11 were taken from us far too soon, but not before they had a uniquely positive impact on each and every one of us. We graciously carry the gifts of love, courage and hope that those killed in the terrorist attacks have passed on to us and we continue to impart these gifts to others in countless ways. The legacies of those who were killed continue to inspire us to lead lives of merit and meaning.”