Town of North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink glanced overhead before addressing the dozens gathered Wednesday at the Mary Jane Davies Green in Manhasset.
“For those of us who remember the day 18 years ago, it was a day not dissimilar to the one we’re experiencing right now,” Wink said. “Gorgeous sunshine, perhaps a few degrees warmer, perhaps a little less of a breeze. Really, in so many ways it was a day like the one we’re experiencing right now. A day full of hope and promise, a day full of anticipation.”
Those present at the town’s memorial for the events of Sept. 11, 2001, including North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, town council members Viviana Russell, Peter Zuckerman, Angelo Ferrara, Veronica Lurvey, Lee Seeman and Dina DeGiorgio, state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) and countless residents and families, listened as Wink continued.
“There were so many people starting their day, probably completely unaware of just how beautiful a day it really was, as we focused on our immediate needs, immediate concerns, immediate frustrations,” Wink said. “Whether it was commuting or just finding ourselves completely distracted by the world around us, we overlooked the beauty that surrounds us every day.”
Wink then stepped aside for a moment of silence at 9:03 a.m., the minute United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Minutes before, the six town council members had read the names of the 57 residents of the Town of North Hempstead who perished in the attacks 18 years ago.
Bosworth, in her speech, quoted the poem “The Names,” written in 2002 by then-poet laureate of the United States Billy Collins, and called attention to legislation passed to extend medical benefits for first responders.
“Someone said to me, just before, ‘This is the 18th year.'” Bosworth said. “And I said, ‘And it doesn’t get easier.’ It shouldn’t get easier.”
Bosworth also noted that the Albertson Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5253, which presented the color guard, had assisted the town with the ceremony for 18 years, and thanked them. Wink also thanked the Chamber Choir of St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, which performed the National Anthem, “America the Beautiful” and “Beautiful City” at the ceremony.
Remarks then came from representatives of different faiths, including the Rev. Victor Lewis of the Friendship Baptist Church of Roslyn, Dr. Isma Chaudhry of the Islamic Center of Long Island and Rabbi Anchelle Perl of the Chabad of Mineola. Earlier in the ceremony, the invocation was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Tim TenClay of the Community Reformed Church in Manhasset.
“The lessons from Sept. 11, 2001, are too powerful to fade into the bland pages of history, the memories too searing, the loss too dear to forget,” TenClay said. “But simply gathering to relive the loss and the pain of 9/11 should not be the end product of a ceremony. In an age where division and derision is an increasing part of our national discourse, pain and loss too often lends itself to hate and fear, further stoking division in our nation.”
TenClay then echoed the sentiments of his fellow speakers, encouraging the pursuit of unity in the face of struggle.
“Our mission this day cannot be simply to hate those who hate us, to inflict suffering on those who made us suffer,” TenClay said. “Rather, we should gather together to rekindle our collective strength in honor of the memories of our loved ones. We should gather together, to steel our resolve to heal our nation’s pain to mend that which was torn from us as a society, to persevere as a people in the face of loss and tragedy.”