Last Saturday, religious leaders, a school superintendent, public officials and village residents gathered at the 9/11 memorial in Arthur J. Hendrickson Park to remember the nearly 3,000 people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Dozens stood solemnly under a brilliant blue sky, much like the one on that morning in Lower Manhattan when the twin towers were struck by two hijacked jets, and ultimately reduced to rubble.
The ceremony began with the presentation of colors by members of American Legion Post 854, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1790 and the Valley Stream Boy and Girl Scouts. Nassau County Court Judge Robert G. Bogle, the master of ceremonies, offered welcoming remarks, and Samantha Wright sang the national anthem. The Rev. Steven Milazzo, of Bethlehem Assembly of God, delivered the invocation.
“We have heard that true courage is like a kite, and a strong wind will always raise it higher,” Bogle said. “President George Washington once said that courage is the price for which life exacts freedom, and freedom is a blessing upon which all the good and evil in life depends. And the cause of that freedom will always be eternal vigilance. Today we honor those individuals who answered the call on that day. They gave America the last full measure of devotion in the city of New York, in Washington, D.C., and in an obscure planting field in Western Pennsylvania. It was a day that began with epic violence. It ended in unprecedented courage.”
In his address to the crowd, Mayor Ed Fare remarked, “Twenty years ago today, the struggle of good against evil was compressed into a single morning. In the span of 102 minutes, our country lost more citizens than were lost on the attack on Pearl Harbor. Time has passed, but memories do not fade as we gather here again on Patriot Day”
He continued, “Most of you are well-aware that I’m an educator in the Valley Stream Central High School District. Last week in the building behind us, I faced my senior classes of 17- and 18-year-olds, and it struck me: None of them were born on Sept. 11, 2001. To them, what took place that day was a day in history two decades old. In our schools, in our homes, it is our job to educate them and all future generations [on] the significance and impact of a day that forever changed the world as you and I remember it...To our police, our firefighters, our fallen first responders, we thank you, and we can never forget you for your service. For the families of the fallen, we understand that while we all suffered loss that day, you bear a special burden. Know that we stand with you, and we always will.”
Memorial wreaths were placed around the 15-foot-long piece of steel base from the ruins of the World Trade Center by the fire chiefs of the Valley Stream Fire Department, Valley Stream Boy and Girl Scouts, and the New York Naval Cadet Corps, as well as Trustees John Tufarelli and Sean Wright and Deputy Mayor Dermond Thomas. At the end of the ceremony, several residents solemnly walked over to place flowers at the base of the monument.