Generally Speaking: Local ceremonies remembering 9/11

Commemoration ceremonies marking the 14th anniversary of 9/11 took place in New York City and throughout our great nation. We had the opportunity to attend three beautiful and poignant area memorial tributes. On Thursday evening, September 10, we were at the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance which had been installed on the western wall of the MCU ballpark in Coney Island.

Here, NYPD chaplain Monsignor Robert Romano (also the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church) gave the Invocation. Among the attendees were dozens of firefighters, military veterans and families who lost loved ones on that fatal day, City Councilmember Mark Treyger, retired FDNY officers and former New York Giants running back Lewis Tillman.

Several members from the gathering gave their reflections about relatives they lost on 9/11. We watched as roses were placed next to the engraved granite portraits of the first responders. Anthony Testaverde, a U.S. Navy veteran and childhood chum of FDNY Fire Chief Timothy Stackpole, placed a flower next to his lost buddy.

On Friday afternoon, we were at Fort Hamilton for its annual commemoration ceremony. Specialist First Class Francis Pena opened the ceremonies with the New York City All Service Color Guard up front and center and Christina Burgos singing the National Anthem. Next Army Garrison Chaplain (Major) Tracy Hudgins gave the Invocation.

In his remarks Garrison Commander Joseph Davidson reminded everyone that, “The price we pay for freedom is not free!” Others spoke about the loss of family members. Retired FDNY Lieutenant Dennis O’Berg talked about the loss of his son also named Dennis, and Rahsaan Thompson spoke about the loss of his father, New York State Court Officer Captain William Thompson.

Six ceremonial wreathes were presented by military service members and New York City Emergency Service Personnel. A 21-gun salute was fired by USAG West Point MP Company.

State Senator Marty Golden held his 14th annual September 11th Memorial on the American Veterans Memorial Pier at the foot of Bay Ridge Avenue. Bill Guarinello, chair of Brooklyn Remembers, served as MC. The presentation of the Colors was carried out by the Fort Hamilton High School Junior ROTC Cadets.

The Pledge of Allegiance was conducted by St. Anselm’s Boy Scout Troop 13 and the National Anthem was sung by St. Anselm’s Cantor Therese Panicali, who later sang other appropriate musical selections. The Invocation was delivered by Reverend Michael Gelfant, the pastor of St. Finbar Catholic Church, and the Benediction by Rabbi Dina Rosenberg of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center.

Other portions of the program included remarks by Senator Golden and Fort Hamilton Garrison Commander Joseph Davidson; a moment of silence; lighting of candles; 21-gun salute; Taps by Joseph Loposky, Xaverian High School’s music director; the release of nine and 11 yellow balloons; and a closing song—“God Bless the USA” — by retired Sergeant Louis Licalzi.   There were also earlier musical selections by the Xaverian High School Concert Band.

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