BY GABRIELLE GUZ
At Fort Hamilton, a new memorial reads, “In honor of those who have served and the brave Americans who gave their lives in defense of their country,” and on its stone is also cast an emblem of the Army Garrison. On July 19, that monument was unveiled to the public at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, held behind the base’s community club.
U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Andrew Zieseniss hosted the ceremony at the base, 101st Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway in Bay Ridge.
The idea for the monument, which was donated to the military installation by the Fort Hamilton Citizens Action Committee, a community-based organization that focuses on preserving the base and supporting military service members and their families, was in the works for a year and a half before it came to fruition.
Bill Guarinello, the president of FHCAC, said that he and his colleagues used to come to the site on Sept. 11, Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day and put a wreath in the bushes. But one day, one of his colleagues pointed out it would be nice to have a permanent memorial at the site, so that when they laid a wreath, there was some added reverence and appreciation for the veterans’ sacrifices.
Getting the monument installed was, admittedly, not easy. FHCAC had to follow varying federal rules and raise funds for the installation.
Guarinello commended Trevor Loew, the Army’s director of Family & Morale, Welfare and Recreation, for following through with that suggestion and for being so adamant during the monument installation process. He said that Loew “was the leader, and that he really kept [everyone] together.”
Fort Hamilton’s surrounding communities and Supreme Memorials, a monument-making business, were also very supportive of the undertaking, Guarinello said.
“My hope is that this memorial will have the same impact on those who view it that it has had on me,” Loew said. “The goal of the monument is to pay tribute to those first responders who have made and continue to make sacrifices both on 9/11 and every day.”
“None of us will ever forget where we were and what we were doing on 9/11,” he went on. “I hope this monument helps keep that day in the forefront of our memory and in the minds of future generations.”
Zieseniss, who has been in the Army for 24 years and who has lived in more than a dozen different places during the course of his service, claimed that he had never seen a place as supportive and patriotic as New York City.
“Now, we have a lasting tribute for every time we come out here and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and those who have since been deployed to fight for our country,” he said. “It has been a bit of a journey — lots of legal hurdles to get through — but we did it. We got here and it looks fantastic.”