A split sky — with clouds casting a gray shroud, threatening rain, on one side, and on the other a near-cloudless light blue — hung over the solemn crowd gathered around the village’s 9/11 memorial monument at Arthur J. Hendrickson Park last Sunday.
Religious leaders, school superintendents, a congressman, town officials, village dignitaries and residents came together in mourning for the nearly 3,000 people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The ceremony, marking the 22nd anniversary of the terrorizing assault, began with the presentation of colors by members of the American Legion Post 854, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1700, and Valley Stream Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
The Rev. Steven Milazzo, pastor of Bethlehem Assembly of God, delivered the invocation, and the Rev. Jeffrey Hooker, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, gave the benediction. There were bowed heads and silent prayers for the families still grieving the loss of loved ones and reliving the horrific memories of that day, and the ensuing sacrifices made as the nation recovered.
“Today we honor those individuals who answered the call of history,” Nassau County Court Judge Robert G. Bogle, the master of ceremonies, said. “In a day of extraordinary events, people rose up to do extraordinary things in the city of New York, in Washington, D.C., and in an open field in western Pennsylvania.”
Valley Stream Mayor Ed Fare then took the podium, and noted the importance of remembering the first responders and average citizens who paid the ultimate price in the wake of the recovery efforts in Lower Manhattan.
“My heart breaks for the first responders who risked life and limb to come to the aid of their brethren, and for the survivors of the attacks, many of whom we have also lost since that day,” Fare said.
Of those who lost family members on Sept. 11, he added, “Any hope of new memories was taken from us. These are the citizens who bear the brunt of the physical and emotional scars every day since that time.”
Fare urged those who witnessed and lived through that dark, disorienting and chaotic chapter of the nation’s history to make it their “duty and responsibility to make sure people younger than 22 years old are aware of what these events mean and how they changed our lives.”
“On the days that followed the attacks, there were no Democrats and there were no Republicans,” U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito said. “I remember the West Side Highway, where hundreds if not thousands of people stood as different first responder agencies headed down to the pile. And everyone was waving an American flag.
“Never forget all that was given, but also never forget the days that followed,” D’Esposito added of the solidarity and patriotism, “because it was some of the most beautiful memories that this nation has ever seen.”
Memorial wreaths were placed around the 15-foot-long piece of steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center by the chiefs of the Valley Stream Fire Department, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Deputy Mayor John Tufarelli and village Trustees Sean Wright, Kevin Waszak and Dermond Thomas. At the conclusion of the ceremony, residents walked, one by one, to the base of the monument to add flowers of their own.
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