Candlelight creates somber 9/11 remembrance in East Williston

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East Williston residents hold candles at last year's 9/11 remembrance ceremony on the Village Green. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

The Village of East Williston’s first 9/11 remembrance ceremony came together almost out of necessity, Mayor David Tanner said.

Memories of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, were still fresh in everyone’s mind the following year, Tanner said. Of the nearly 3,000 people killed, three were from East Williston.

Everybody felt terrible. I don’t know how else to describe it,” said Tanner, who was at work in midtown Manhattan when the attacks happened. “… For the following months there was one funeral after the other as they found bodies, and the different fire departments were experiencing it and supporting each other.”

Village residents and officials gathered by candlelight on the Village Green on the first anniversary to remember the tragedy, when Tanner was still a trustee. They’ll do so for the 16th time on Monday at 7 p.m.

The ceremony, which usually draws about 100 people, will feature an invocation by the Rev. Marcus Tillery, the pastor of the Community Church of East Williston. The names of the eight East Williston and Williston Park residents killed on 9/11 will be read.

The candlelight sets the mood for the village to look back on 9/11 in a communal way, Tanner said.

“People want to come, they want to remember,” Tanner said. “They do remember and they want to share that with the rest of the community.”

Tanner said he walked across the Queensboro Bridge to get out of Manhattan after terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers 16 years ago.

He remembers seeing fighter jets fly over the East River on the sunny and crisp fall day. He also saw them doing surveillance over Long Island later that evening, he said.

“You hear me say it every year — it doesn’t get easier,” Tanner said. “The memory lingers strong.”

The Village of Williston Park will hold its own 9/11 remembrance at 7:30 p.m. Monday, also honoring the eight victims from the two villages.

The eighth annual ceremony at Kelleher Field on Syracuse Street will feature appearances from community groups, such as Williston Park American Legion Post 144, and local politicians, including North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth.

The Village of Mineola’s ceremony will start at 7 p.m. at Memorial Park, located at 195 Marcellus Road. Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss, a former NYPD officer and a 9/11 first-responder, speaks at each year’s event.

The Town of North Hempstead will hold its annual 9/11 memorial service honoring the 56 town residents who died in the attacks at 8 a.m. Monday at Mary Jane Davies Green, located across from Town Hall on Plandome Road in Manhasset.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano will host a sunset memorial service at the county’s 9/11 Memorial in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7. The names of county residents who died in the attacks will be read.

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