The Perennial Effort Against Forgetting

The names of the 9/11 victims from the Town of North Hempstead are memorialized on this bronze plaque. It sits in front of a 19-foot steel beam saved from the World Trade Center site.
(Photos by Frank Rizzo)

North Hempstead’s 9/11 ceremony is an act of remembrance

As September 11th recedes into history, there are fears that it will join Pearl Harbor as another epochal and transforming event that no longer holds the same meaning as the affected generations pass from the scene.

Witnessing the Town of North Hempstead 21st Anniversary Memorial Service was to be assured that it will continue to be an occasion rich with significance for a long time to come.

Held at Manhasset Memorial Park on the anniversary day itself, the memorial’s 8:30 a.m. start assured that moments of silence would be held at the exact times the hijacked airliners slammed in to World Trade Center, 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m.

The highlight, as always, was when the councilmembers read the names of the 56 victims from their Town of North Hempstead districts who died that day: Robert Troiano (District 1), Peter Zuckerman (2), Dennis Walsh (3), David Adhami (5) and Mariann Dalimonte (6). Veronica Lurvey (4) was too sick to attend and Supervisor Jen DeSena, who lives in the district, did the honors. Lurvey’s legislative assistant, Romina Tehrany, stood by her side. A firefighter rang a bell after each name was read.

Taking part in the wreath presentation were, from left, Port Washington Fire Department Chief Brian Waterson, Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department Chief Greg Weisburd and NCPD Sergeant Steve Kurkowski.

Town Clerk Ragini Srivastava spoke of “the devastation and horror of this unprecedented, unparalleled senseless act of hate. I reflect on the grief and anguish experienced by loved ones. I witnessed the resilience and strength of individuals to move forward. Today we are gathered in a sad commitment to pay tribute to our neighbors and our friends. The toll of the bell is felt deep within our hearts.”

Srivastava hoped that the heroic efforts of first responders would forever be recognized, and hoped “new generations of Americans would learn the lessons of our democracy and to defend our freedom.”

She promised, “We will always stand with you and we will never forget.”

DeSena gave credit to the clerk and her staff and all the town departments who worked to plan and arrange the ceremony.

The supervisor pointed out the memorial the town dedicated last year, featuring a 19-foot steel beam from the World Trade Center angled directly at downtown Manhattan.

“It’s a truly moving memorial, both in presentation and meaning. I’d like to thank all those who worked to make it a reality,” she said.

Current and former elected officials and faith leaders look on as Town Clerk Ragini Srivastava gives her remarks.

Noting that words cannot capture the horror those experiencing that September Tuesday witnessed, DeSena emphasized, “We come together today not to focus on the great evil that was done that day. Instead, we gather as one town family to remember the nearly 3,000 Americans who lost their lives that fateful day, including more than 400 police officers, firefighters and other first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice trying to help and protect others and prevent further loss of life. Right here in our town, 56 of our friends and neighbors were torn from us that day and it is our solemn vow that they will not be forgotten. We gather today to celebrate the legacy lost and to say their names out loud in remembrance of the beautiful lives we lost. Lives that meant so much, not only to their loved ones, but to our community as well.”

The supervisor also asked attendees to remember all those who succumbed and are suffering from cancers and illnesses after working on the toxic pile at Ground Zero in the months following the attack.

Vocalist Kristen Casesa and the St. Mary’s Chamber Choir sang the National Anthem.

DeSena acknowledged that “there’s still a tremendous sense of loss that we feel all those years later. The truth is that often times grief will never fully leave us and time does not heal all wounds. But we come together each year to not only honor and remember those who were lost, but to continue to give strength and support to our families friends and neighbors who still bear the tragic burden of grief.”

She promised, “We will forever be by your side, persevering in the face of these horrid attacks and unimaginable loss. Our loved ones would have wanted us to keep moving forward in the face of grief, the journey of grief and the aftermath of grief. That is exactly what we will do because that in and of itself is another way to draw hope from their memory.”

DeSena concluded, “It is my sincere hope that all of the surviving friends and family members who are here with us today find some solace and peace knowing your loved ones are not forgotten and you’re not alone in this. This is why we joined together today and every year.”

After the names were read, DeSena invited anyone in the audience to name people who had not been mentioned. Several did, calling out those who died from 9/11 health issues.

Rabbi Osher Kravitsky of the Chabad of Great Neck blows the shofar as Community Reformed Church of Manhasset Pastor Tim TenClay and Islamic Center of Long Island President Dr. Isma Chaudhry watch.

The supervisor added the name of her Boston College classmate, Tom Brennan, formerly of Garden City, whom she referred by his nickname, “Beezo.” He had been living in Scarsdale and died at the World Trade Center that Tuesday morning.

DeSena also recognized the “first responders who devoted their time, their health and even their lives to the rescue, recovery and cleanup efforts in and around Ground Zero. If any of our first responders are here today please rise and be recognized at this time.”

A number of them did and they were greeted with applause.

Faith Words

Rabbi Osher Kravitsky from the Chabad of Great Neck said of the tragic day, “It wasn’t possible for something of that magnitude to occur in our soil. The impact is long-reaching and we’re still feeling it. We were attacked because we are one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Because we are the United States.”

He recalled the days and weeks after the attack, when, wherever he went, Americans were united and respectful and dignified, and the divisions seemed to be erased.

Former North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Councilwoman Lee Seeman listen to the St. Mary’s Chamber Choir’s rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

“There’s one thing our Torah teaches us—it’s that we don’t fight darkness with brooms, with bats, with knives, with guns, with bombs,” he observed. “In order to combat darkness, we have to increase the light and the light has to be a very substantial light. It’s not a conceptual, theoretical light, but rather lights of acts of goodness and kindness.”

He urged attendees to dedicate themselves to increasing their good deeds, acts of kindness and positive thoughts each day.

He noted that Rosh Hashanah was approaching, calling it, “the head of the year, in which God Almighty blesses the entire universe in the coming year materially and spiritually. Traditionally, we blow the shofar as a wake-up call to remind ourselves that life is so fragile and our comforts can be taken away so quickly. This is a wake-up call for us to love each other, for us to respect each other regardless of where we come from or where we are going. We’re all here in this one world to make it better. And this is not a conceptual charge, but rather a real one.”

The rabbi then proceeded to blow on the shofar.

Dr. Isma Chaudhry of the Islamic Center of Long Island said the day served “to honor the memories of beautiful lives of loved ones who were taken away 21 years [ago].”

She hoped that children will learn from textbooks and from their elders about how 9/11 marked the time when the world changed.

Michael Tedeschi of the Port Washington Fire Department performs “Amazing Grace” on his bagpipes.

“They will learn from us how we as a nation emerged from intense grief and loss and face the challenges of living in a post 9/11 world by upholding the values of compassion, care and love,” she said. “They will know the history of American resilience and resolve, especially when faced with the darkness of extremism. From us, they will learn how to honor the legacy of the heroes of 9/11.”

Chaudhry invited the assembled to pray with her, intoning, “May God grant us the wisdom and the will and the strength to love our neighbors and our community as revealed to us in the divine scriptures. Open our hearts and minds and become each other’s keepers. I pray that the lasting legacy of 9/11 is not fear and despair, but rather hope and aspiration for a world renewed and transformed with compassion and kindness.”

East Williston Mayor Bonnie Parente then read a poem by her neighbor Michael Baltzer, “Angels of America.” She related that the retired Air Force pilot flew combat missions in the F-15 and A-10 (that particular plane is now at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City).

Albertson VFW Post 5253 Commander John Incremona plays “Taps.”

“Major Baltzer is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, an air medal with two oak leaf clusters,” the mayor stated. “These medals are awarded to a person serving who has set himself apart from his comrades in meritorious achievement while involved an aerial flight. Upon separating from active duty in 1992, he became employed with American Airlines and joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. I am proud to be a friend and neighbor to Mike, his wife Lori and his three children, Michael, Matthew and Mitchell.”


Angels of America

We are the Angels of America.
Almost three thousand strong.
With names like, Smith, Jones and Murray,
The list goes on and on.
Together one September morning.
The year two thousand and one.
Our day was just starting.
Our lives lit up by the sun.
Then from Heavens that were parting,
Hell unleashed with no warning.
Bringing the time for our calling.
In our towers that were falling.

We are the Angels of America.
We guide your everyday.
We are the Angels of America.
We are with you when you pray.

The FDNY came to our rescue.
The PAPD and NYPD came too.
Up the stairs they did trudge,
Being led by Father Judge.
For those of you who made it,
We know you serve us well.
We see you when you visit.
We hear our stories you do tell.

We are the Angels of America.
We guide your everyday.
We are the Angels of America.
Remember us this way!

Odds and Ends: The Albertson VFW Post 5252 presented the colors…Gavin Kinney led the Boy Scouts Troop 7 of Port Washington in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance…The National Anthem and “America The Beautiful” were sung by St. Mary’s Chamber Choir, led by Choral Director Michael Janover with vocalist Kristen Casesa. Brian Stalter is the director of Arts at the school…the Rev. Tim TenClay, pastor of the Community Reformed Church of Manhasset gave the invocation…on hand were former Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Clerk Wayne Wink, along with Councilwoman Lee Seeman. Nassau County Legislator Arnie Drucker, New York State Senator Anna Kaplan and Assemblymembers Gina Sillitti and Ed Ra also sat among the elected officials.

Firefighters salute during the Presentation of Colors.
The Albertson VFW Post 5252 supplied the Color Guard.
Boy Scout Troop 7 of Port Washington led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The steel beam taken from the ruins of the World Trade Center.
The names of Town of North Hempstead residents who died on 9/11.
Tolling the bell as each name of a 9/11 victim is read.
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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers. PHONE:516-403-5154


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