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9th Annual Manhasset Candlelight Memorial Service

The last few years the question on everyone’s mind has been, “Will this be the year no one shows up to commemorate the attacks on the Twin Towers?” At 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, there were a handful of people at the Mary Jane Davies Green in Manhasset to participate in the 9th Annual Manhasset Candlelight Memorial Service sponsored by the Manhasset Clergy Association.

The few early arrivals eyed the sparse crowd, compared candle scents, and hoped aloud for a better showing. The Rev. Ed Doyle, Chaplain, Manhasset- Lakeville Fire Department for the past 6 years, stood in a small circle of people, and commented that those individuals around 10 or 11 years old at the time of the terrorist attack are now 19 or 20 years old, and not as mindful of the guy next door or the girl down the block who lost their lives that day. The gatherings around the country unify the heart of this nation and that’s what counts, the Chaplain said, and what comes from the heart goes to the heart. “We keep them there and they’ll feel it, even,” he said, “when only 30 are left at the memorial, they’ll still feel it come from our hearts.”

But, just like years past, by the 8 p.m. start time the clergy had assembled, the Manhasset High School Ensemble was in the wings, and several hundred individuals had quietly arrived, many with their candles, to commemorate the untimely deaths of so many Manhasset and Town of North Hempstead residents who lost their lives on what began as just another Tuesday. Nancy Mitchell, Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department, a member of the small group, remembered, “I was at Ground Zero working with the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department that night. It’s part of me always.”

The Rev. David Lowry, Christ Episcopal Church, delivered the welcoming address and stated that mosques being built and Korans being burned “are not why we are here today, but for all 3752 people in NYC who left their homes in places like Boston and Washington in airlines for trips across the country and became part of the tragedy; 42 connected to the Village of Manhasset and the Town of North Hempstead.” Executives and janitors, we remember them all tonight, he said, and their family and friends, too. Lives altered forever. We pray for them, us, the nation and the world, Lowry said, for a place of peace, justice, understanding and hope. “We pray that terrorism will no longer be the watchword of our generation and generations to come.” “We pray,” he concluded, “that those who gave so much, and lost so much, did not do it in vain.”

Father Vincent Ritchie, SJ, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church , gave the invocation asking God to unite everyone as they prayed; help them avoid hatred and vengeance and allow justice and integrity to fashion their response to evil.

Rabbi Todd Chizner, Temple Judea of Manhasset, read from scripture (Micah 4:1-5) as did The Rev. Father Evan Evangelidis, Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church, (Matthew 5:1-2).

In delivering her Prayer for Our Country and the World, The Reverend Jennifer Brower, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, said nothing has been the same since 2001. Our lives, the nation and the world were forever changed. “All we can do is keep on keeping on,” she commented, “in spite of greater chaos now than before that devastating day. We must resist the temptation to shut our hearts and minds to the diversity in the world. In the face of fanaticism we must stand firm and respond to forceful terrorists with the refusal to be terrorized.”

Pastor Ben Ward, Shelter Rock Church, led the group in the Litany followed by the Manhasset High School Ensemble performing My Shepherd Will Supply My Need directed by Mark Van Schenkhof. Their young voices soared above those gathered on the green, such volume, such resonance, generated by roughly 12 students.

Then The Rev. James Brown Only, Congregational Church of Manhasset, directed the Naming of Loved Ones. “The purpose of the gathering,” he said, “is to remember.” He then invited all “to come forward to speak the name of a loved one you lost so they may be remembered today.” Names of victims from Garden City, Port Washington and Great Neck were interspersed with those from Manhasset. A child who says “my dad” still touches everyone, no matter how many years have elapsed since the attacks. Roughly 30 names were spoken. This year those who approached the podium at the gazebo to voice the name of one to be remembered did it with a casual determination, not the sadness, the solemnity of that first heartbreaking year. A moment of silence followed.

Before delivering the Prayer for Healing The Rev. Raymond Ormand, Church of Our Saviour Lutheran, said “Never let us give up on life. Evil,” he said, “does not have the last word, nor does death.” Elder Robert Mitchell, The Community Reformed Church, then led the group in reciting Psalm 23.

Rabbi Jodie Siff, Reconstructionist Synagogue, offered Words of Peace and Benediction following a group effort singing America, the Beautiful. “Each year,” she began, “we come together with feelings of ‘What now?’” No person, Siff said, should be subject to another’s will. “We need to turn to people we hold dear…and hold on, hold on even tighter.”