Residents of Lynbrook and East Rockaway gathered on Sept. 11 to reflect and remember the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in somber ceremonies.
In Lynbrook, dozens of residents attended the remembrance at the 9/11 Memorial Garden behind Village Hall. Mayor Alan Beach reflected on the lives lost that day and how 20 village residents were among them. He also talked about how many more people still suffer from the toxic contaminants at ground zero during recovery efforts.
“While it never gets any easier, we do our part to ensure their existence is not lost to time,” Beach said. “We come together at this memorial and others across our area where those that perished are forever remembered and memorialized. Despite all the sorrow and sadness, we are inspired by the bravery and heroism we witnessed. Despite the evil that descended on us that day, we are forever moved by those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. And in the depths of despair, we find hope and purpose.”
Deputy Mayor Michael Hawxhurst and Trustees Ann Marie Reardon and Robert Boccio read the names of Lynbrook residents who died in the attacks. Father Richard Stelter of Our Lady of Peace gave the Invocation, while American Legion Post 335 presented the colors, the Lynbrook Fire and Police departments stood at attention and Girls and Boys Scout troops also participated. The event concluded with Mac na hÉireann Pipes and Drums performance of “Amazing Grace.”
In East Rockaway, the color guard of the Fire Department, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legions posts, members of the Junior Fire Department and local Girls and Boys Scouts troops marched around the village’s 9/11 memorial to begin the ceremony at Memorial Park.
Peter Rapanaro sang the National Anthem, while Pastor Mark Lukens of Bethany Congregational Church delivered the Invocation and the Rev. Charles Romano of St. Raymond’s Roman Catholic Church read a closing prayer.
Former village Trustee Theresa Gaffney read the names of each of the 12 victims from East Rockaway who died in the attacks and rang a bell after each one, while members of the scouts placed a rose and flag next to their memorial markers.
Barbara Stern, whose son, Andrew, was killed in the attacks, addressed the audience and noted how the country was more unified in the wake of 9/11 than it is now. “Our country is so different now than 18 years ago,” she said. “For a time race, religion and sexual orientation was forgotten. The stores were sold out of flags and everyone helped one another.”
Each year, the East Rockaway School District hosts the Andrew Stern Memorial Essay Contest in Barbara’s son’s memory, during which a student from the elementary, middle and high school levels are selected as winners for writing essays on a different topic each year.
Mayor Bruno Romano also reflected on how 9/11, while tragic, brought the country together and urged attendees to never forget that dark day.
“There is still great sorrow from that day, 18 years later,” he said. “It will, like Pearl Harbor before it, live in infamy. We will remember each year and weep with sorrow, still stinging from that day. We are thankful for all the first responders — volunteer and professional — who stopped what they were doing and flew to the scene in Lower Manhattan to lend aid, to help their fellow man, to feel for one another.
“And most assuredly, we will never forget,” he continued. “That phrase is more than four random words strung together — it is a solemn oath.”