At a stunning Point Lookout seaside setting, Hempstead Town hosted Long Island's largest 9-11 memorial program, a sunrise event that included two monuments and remarks by surviving family members of World Trade Center victims. Additionally, over a thousand participants took part in an interactive flag laying ceremony, the casting of carnations into two reflecting pools and a Facebook posting program. The theme of the program, "bridging the decade from mourning to hope," was underscored by a brand new emblematic memorial that included a 30 foot WTC beam, a reflecting pool and a pedestrian bridge that traversed the beam and pool. Town officials, Reverend Clergy and various elected representatives participated in the tenth anniversary commemoration.
Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray commenced the program, stating, "a decade after the brutal and senseless terrorist attacks of September 11th, we are here to comfort those enduring the loss of loved ones, to reflect upon the lasting gifts of the heroes of 9-11 and to celebrate the legacy of courage, love and renewal that has been passed on to us. What's more, the legacy of the victims of 9-11 has built a bridge from mourning to hope which is embodied in a new generation of people who were too young to remember or comprehend the attacks at Ground Zero."
Murray discussed the first time she saw the 30-foot-long piece of steel that was recovered from the World Trade Center. The supervisor stated that she stared at the twisted piece of metal in disbelief. Murray thought to herself that the terrorists of 9-11 may have succeeded in reducing the once majestic towers into pieces of broken steel; however, the cowards of 9-11 could not destroy the legacy of the men and women who were killed.
"Though the terrorists broke our hearts," stated Murray, "they only strengthened the resolve of all Americans and reinforced the spirit of the victims that continues to live on through friends, families and everyone touched by the events of 9-11."
Providing compelling and profound remarks of solace, comfort and wisdom were two remarkable ladies who had their brothers taken from them by the terrorists of Ground Zero.
Joann Santella told a beautiful tale of her brother Charles Lucania, a worker at the Twin Towers. She recalled how Charles was the person who taught her about "love, family and all of the most cherished jewels in the treasury of life." While Charles Lucania's parents, sister and friends mourned his death, Charles' imprint of love "bridged" a generation, evidenced in the smiling face of Joann's beautiful daughter Juliana, the niece Charles never met.
"When I met the Lucania family at a street renaming in Charles' honor, it was evident that Juliana embodied the bridge that Charles built between the mourning of his parents and sister and the hope and promise of a beautiful young niece," said Murray.
Dawn Carbone and her family are survivors, enduring a pain beyond description when her two firefighting brothers, Thomas and Timothy Haskell, were killed at the towers. Carbone's brothers died while saving the lives of people who went to work at the World Trade Center on September 11th . . . people who sought only to earn a living, support their families and return to the tranquility of home. Dawn Carbone said in an interview, "the family attempts to live their lives in a manner that honors the memory of Thomas and Timothy Haskell."
"The Haskell family, including children, nephews and nieces, and extended family, embody the renewal of the promise of a life well lived . . . a promise made by those brave firefighters, Timothy and Thomas Haskell," stated Murray.
After a poem written by an 11-year-old boy who had his father taken by the 9-11 terrorists was read, clergy offered reflections, a Gregorian choir performed, white doves were released and a variety of interactive activities commenced.
One of the more compelling interactive elements was the flag laying program which took place at the twin towers monument. The monument, featuring a chrome replica of the World Trade Center, a reflecting pool and sand base, was the focal point of a flag-laying activity. Participants placed small American flags in the sand at the monument's base. The flag staffs had prominent tags upon which attendees wrote the names of loved ones who were killed on 9-11.
Another interactive element of the program included attendees crossing a pedestrian bridge over a second monument. This monument included a reflecting pool upon which guests cast carnations. The bridge traversed both the pool and a 30-foot long beam from the twin towers. The floor of the bridge had glass portals to view additional beam vantage points. Also focused around the beam was a Facebook posting activity whereby guests posted thoughts and offered suggestions for a permanent monument home for the WTC beam.
"I wanted today's memorial to be emblematic of our loved ones who were killed at the World Trade Center," concluded Murray. "The bridge that traverses the reflecting pool pays homage to the bridge that has led us to the gifts of courage, love and renewal left to us by the angels of 9-11. It is also a powerful symbol to future generations that our heroes' sacrifices of ten years ago will span the chasm between mourning and hope."