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Editorial: It’s Always About Oyster Bay

We watched the 9/11 Memorial events televised from Ground Zero on Saturday, Sept. 11. It has become a ritual for us – just as we sat in the same dining room the morning of September 11, 2001.

Madeline Bonasia had called us to tell us to put on the television, the World Trade Tower just got hit. We and the rest of America sat watching as the events happened before our eyes including the second tower’s hit; the doctors at St. Vincent’s ready to care for the expected hundreds of victims; people running from the scene covered in white ashes.

Author Norman Mailer quoted a friend in his book Why We Went to War saying he saw the ghostlike crowd of white covered people – headed across the 69th Street Bridge. They were silent.

They didn’t know what happened and we didn’t know what happened. People only knew to go home – to get home any way they could – often on foot. Everyone has their own story from that day.

This year again New York City honored the memory of all those lost in a ceremony that included reading the names of the victims. We watched to see the familiar Oyster Bay names, and listened to the short speeches the readers gave. One man talked about the scholarships his family had sponsored for their fallen hero; church bells were ringing; music played; someone said, “My hero in heaven”.

Kristin Chenoweth sang Borrowed Angels, the words of which said “Sometimes God needs them again,” and “If love could save the world, these beautiful people – they would live forever”, she sang.

People said things like, “You are missed by mother, wife, sisters and cousins”; “Your mom Christine sends love to you wherever you are”; “Keep sending us your love and peace”; “Your beautiful little girls love you,”; “He was a husband and grandfather”; “New York please be mindful this is a sacred site and should be respected as such.” There was applause.

A brother to brother greeting: “You will always be my wing man.” A woman saying, “She is her daddy’s k-k-k-katie and he misses her every day.” And more: “Your sisters from Wisconsin and California are here to be with you”; “To Mary Ellen my baby sister”; “To my son Jason – Daddy and me will see you soon - and love from your brothers, sister and nephews.”

A cousin said, “Thank you for the memories. I will never forget what we did as kids.” Another remembered one of the policemen won an Emmy for his film and always carried his camera to assignments. His talent is lost.

And others said: “To my brother Jim Walsh – his daughter Caroline is 11 now.” “You are a hero not because of the way you died but because of the way you lived.” “Your service has left a legacy in the family,” said a young woman wearing a type of service-related uniform. “Dad, I hope all is well in heaven.” “You left a legacy of love. You are our angel, continue to watch over us now.” “Salvatore Pepe my angel in the stars.” “Me and my brothers miss you daddy.”

As the program on Channel 4 ended, the last person we say was Barbara Genco of Oyster Bay standing near the reflecting pool with roses in her hand.

When it comes down to it – everything is always about Oyster Bay.