Around the country for the past 20 years, September 11 Memorial ceremonies ensure that we truly will never forget that fateful day.
This year's September 11 ceremony conducted by the Village of Manorhaven was particularly moving since it has been 20 years since terrorists attacked our country killing thousands of innocent victims.
After Manorhaven Mayor Jim Avena gave opening remarks, Police Commissioner Angela Mullins led the audience in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. An annual tradition, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was sung a cappella by Mayor Avena's granddaughter Ella Rowe, an 8th grader at Weber Junior High School. Port Jewish Center Rabbi Alysa Mendelson Graf gave an invocation, followed by reflections from past Village Trustee Ken Kraft. Remarks were then made by Nassau County Legislator Delia Deriggi-Whitton, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte, NYS Assemblymember Gina Sillitti, Town Clerk Wayne Wink, and NYS Senator Anna Kaplan. Members of Port Washington's VFW Post #1819 conducted a gun salute ceremony, followed by Our Lady of Fatima Church's Sisters Kathy and Gerri who provided a benediction. Michael Tedeschi played "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes, then Mayor Avena made closing remarks before Ella Rowe sang "God Bless America" to close the ceremony, which was followed by light refreshments.
A Vietnam War veteran and past Village Trustee, Ken Kraft's remarks were especially heartfelt since he was working for the Nassau County Police Department when the attacks happened. Here are his remarks: "September 11, 2001, was a typical sunny September day when I arrived at my NCPD BSO office in Westbury at 8:00 a.m. Sunday, two planes hit the World Trade Center towers at 0845 and 0902 hours and changed our lives and the world within 17 minutes. Two other plane crashes would occur in Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. These terrorists or cowards as I would call them, created these horrible acts in the name of a god that none of our religions would or could ever relate to. This horrible act killed almost 3,000 innocent people from 78 countries covering 40% of our planet. My tactical unit, the Bureau of Special Operations, included some police officers that had previously worked for the NYPD who wanted so badly to help their brothers, sisters, and the victims in NYC.
We responded early in the morning of September 12 as no one could either leave or enter NYC on September 11. This thick heavy plumes of smoke at the World Trade Center were a fog that we were faced with when we arrived and departed eight hours later. We assisted in searches through damaged buildings adjacent to the World Trade Center where our black DCUs (battle dress uniforms) would eventually turn from black to tan before we left at the end of the day. There are no words to describe what was going on around us that day with the death and destruction everywhere we looked. As we took a brief break in one of the heavily damaged buildings, I told my team of four police officers that I would never be back here again as I survived Vietnam and this was much worse as it occurred in my own backyard.
As brutal and sad as it was, something happened that day throughout our country. For the first time in a long time, a feeling of nationalism and pride occurred where whether you were white, black, brown, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, or whatever, our country came together as AMERICANS. I had not seen this intense feeling or enthusiasm since the 1980 Olympics when our hockey tea beat Russia and won the gold medal where or months after all we heard was "USA, USA."
Now, more than ever before, it is time for all of us to respect and appreciate our first responders, police, fire, rescue, our soldiers as well as the civilians who wanted so much to rescue and help those 3,000 victims of this cowardly, atrocious act.With all the deaths, serious accidents, and events that I covered during my 38 years with the Nassau County Police, I have never experienced such a horrible act as this upon humanity. Please take the time to treat one another with respect as all American lives matter. God Bless our country, our first responders and veterans who made it great, and all of us who love it so much. Thank you.