Written by Katherine M. Trager Friday, 16 September 2011 00:00
On the afternoon of Sept. 10, the Westbury community joined in solemnity and solidarity to honor those who perished 10 years ago in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Families, friends and neighbors assembled on the Community Center’s village green to share in an interfaith ceremony. The ceremony, which quickly became a standing-room-only event, included reflections from community politicians and clergy as well as patriotic music from Westbury Fire Department bagpiper Nicholas Burke and the Westbury Middle School Band.
After the presentation of colors by the Westbury Fire Department Color Guard and the performance of the national anthem by the Westbury Middle School Band, Mayor Peter Cavallaro welcomed the community and gave remarks on the significance and meaning of the event.
“Those who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, including the nine people who had roots in our community, did not know that they were targets of people who despised the United States and the very liberty that we cherish,” said Cavallaro.
“But, while unknowing and innocent like many others before them, they would that day sacrifice their lives in the name of liberty.
“It is for us, the living, to make sure that they did not die in vain. Let us stand strong and united as Americans, as we are doing here today, and never yield our commitment to the American ideals on which our nation was founded,” concluded Cavallaro.
Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello encouraged the audience to remember, “In that darkness, in which we saw the worst of mankind, we also saw some of the best of mankind,” recalling the bravery of 9/11 emergency personnel.
“The fact that human beings have that ability to display that kind of courage is something I think we’re all still in awe of,” said Nicolello.
State Assemblyman Michael Montesano agreed with both of these sentiments.
“Let us recommit ourselves to the freedom and democracy that we have, and remember that while we sit here today, our military fights abroad for that freedom and democracy,” he stated.
“We also remember those who were injured and are still sick, and as a community we must always be thankful and mindful of the sacrifices that they make every day,” continued Montesano.
Local clergy also offered words of inspiration.
Reverend Jeffrey Krantz from Westbury’s Church of the Advent prayed that our country would be restored to a “lantern of freedom and idealism.”
Krantz added, “Remember that even those with whom we disagree love this country just as much as we do.”
“Let us find the good that we can do today in order to move forward as a great and wonderful nation,” added Reverend Marcus De’Angelo Briddell of Bethel AME Church of Westbury.
Islamic Center of Long Island Chairman Habeeb Ahmed stated that, “On that dreadful day, our religion was hijacked by extremists who called themselves Muslims.
“I pray that our tears of grief and loss will unite us with all people, and over time transform into a fountain of overflowing wisdom and compassion,” he continued.
The community then stood as one as Deputy Mayor Joan Boes read the names and stories of the nine Westbury residents who were lost on that day. After each name was read, family and community representatives gently placed a single rose on the Community Center memorial stone that bears their names.
With heavy hearts and some tears shed, family and friends remembered David G. Arce, a firefighter who enjoyed helping the less fortunate; Richard A. Aronow, an attorney honored even by his opposition for his fairness; Michael Boyle, a firefighter and sports fan who was planning to run the New York City marathon; Richard G. Bruehert, a technology group vice president with big dreams who loved his children; Thomas P. DeAngelis, a firefighter and family man respected for his humble nature; David J. Fontana, a firefighter and history buff who was caring and affectionate; Wade B. Green, a financial representative with an ever-present smile who enjoyed singing in his church choir; Ann McGovern, a claims analyst who liked sports and had a zeal for life; and Thomas Strada, a bond broker who loved fishing and spending time with his children, including a newborn son.
The community remained standing for a moment of quiet reflection as bagpiper Nicholas Burke played taps and the Westbury Fire Department Color Guard marched solemnly off the village green in the retiring of colors.
Father Jack Custer of St. Andrew the Apostle Byzantine Catholic Church offered a closing prayer.
“We give thanks for the selflessness of the first responders, and of all those who risked themselves to save the lives of others.
“Heal those who are wounded, and grant rest to those who fell, whether in uniform or as civilians,” he prayed.
Continued Custer, “Every life lost on Sept. 11, 2001, as is evident from these people’s stories, has reminded us of how unique and irreplaceable every life is.”