On Sunday, residents gathered at the Village Green in Rockville Centre in front of the recently renovated 9/11 memorial to continue their promise to never forget the lives lost on that fateful Tuesday morning in 2001. Residents lit candles to commemorate the nearly 3,000 people that died that day, including 49 from the village.
Rockville Centre firefighters and police officers marched into the park through the entrance by the Fire Department building on Maple Avenue, and walked along the path that was inundated with small U.S. flags and arrived in front of the refurbished memorial to salute those whose names are etched into the stone. There they stood guard throughout the rest of the vigil.
“Few communities suffered more than Rockville Centre,” Mayor Francis X. Murray said in his introductory speech. “As we have always done in the face of adversity, the invincible spirit of the people of this village was on full display. We lifted each other up and responded with good will and generosity. We truly showed the world what is meant when we say, ‘Rockville Centre Strong.’ “
Matt Geyer lost his father, Jimmy, a Rockville Centre native, on 9/11. In his remarks, Geyer talked about the generosity his neighbors displayed. “While I have very painful memories of 20 years ago, I also remember the simple acts of kindness that members of this community showed to me, my family and each other in those days after 9/11,” Geyer said. “Even the small things, like people stopping by our house just to check on us, the endless supply of food that made its way to the front door, or the simple acts of extending open arms and open doors so we would never feel alone.”
Geyer continued: “It is that sense of compassion and community that makes Rockville Centre such a great place to live.”
After Geyer’s speech, officials read the names of the 49 Rockville Centre residents who were killed as candles were distributed among the crowd and lit in their memories.
Rabbi Michael Cohen from Central Synagogue came up to the lectern dressed in a modest camouflage hoodie with “NYPD” emblazoned on the back. “During a time of danger, fear and uncertainty, the world witnessed men and women in and out of uniform act as guardians,” Cohen said. “We must remember the actions and sacrifices of our firefighters, medics, nurses, doctors, police officers and the countless civilians in an attempt to save people they never met.”
American Legion Post 303 Commander Frank Colon led his fellow members in a 21-gun salute and then played the Taps on his trumpet in a solemn moment of reflection for residents. Guitarists Peter Garrity and Tom McNicholas then performed an acoustic rendition of “America, The Beautiful,” as members of the crowd sang along.