Though 12 years have passed since that fateful Tuesday morning in September, the images, feelings and heartbreak all still all too fresh for many when the anniversary of September 11 comes around the calendar.
“We pray to you on this day when we remember one of the darkest days of our history,” Fr. Tomaz Gomide of Corpus Christi Church said Wednesday night during the Village of Mineola’s 17-minute remembrance ceremony in Memorial Park. “We pray for those who perished; victims of hatred and we pray for the heroes who gave their lives rescuing or trying to recuse those innocent victims of that terrible tragedy.”
At the time of the attacks, current Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell was Mineola’s representative in the NY State Assembly and was the featured speaker during the ceremony.
“Tonight we join in solemn prayer with all those who grieve for the families and children whose lives have been forever changed, all those whose sense of safety and security, especially our police and fire services will be forever shattered,” she said. “None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward with resolve.”
O’Connell also paused to remember the three Mineola residents who lost their lives in the attacks – Anthony Spataro, Christopher Dunne and Mitchel Scott Wallace – before recalling Connor Cahill, one of the readers at the Nassau County ceremony held the previous Sunday, and whom had no memory of his father who also perished in the attacks.
“One of the young gentlemen who read the names of the people we lost here in Nassau County – some 360 of us here in Nassau were killed on September 11 – one of the young readers was a young child who lived on my block and was in kindergarten on the day September 11 occurred,” O’Connell said of Cahill. “He was one of the readers and the reason he was a reader is that he lost his dad, Michael Cahill on September 11 (He) remembered his dad as a man who loved his family, who loved the community, who loved life and who loved to laugh.”
Also among the guests present but who did not address the residents gathered were state Sen. Jack Martins and members of the Mineola Village Board. Boy Scouts from Troop 45 were also present as were the members of the Mineola Fire Department, junior fire department and ladies auxiliary.
“Office workers, military, airline passengers on that day; here in New York, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania; it’s important that we remember and honor their lives,” Nassau Executive Ed Mangano said, speaking to the small crowd. “Those that still suffer today, the countless first responders, firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians, volunteers in the military and FDNY chaplain Judge, all who ran in to help.”
One of those first responders was current Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss, who was then a member of the NYPD.
“September 11 has taught us about duty, self-sacrifice and love. For the police officers, firefighters, medical personnel, they believed it was their duty to give up their lives, to sacrifice themselves and everything they held dear so that strangers may live,” Strauss said “At the many, many funerals we went to as we buried our friends, we saw the unspeakable heartbreak and tears of their family as husbands, wives, children and parents said their final, heart-wrenching goodbyes. For some, September 11 has left a gaping hole in our lives, but that pain can be softened by the examples shown to us by those who died and those who lived. The families of those lost have shown us how to be strong, how to press on in the face of indescribable pain and grief; all of them have shown us the strength of the human spirit.”
Representatives from VFW Adolph Block Post 1305 led by commander Tom Scardino then presented a memorial wreath honoring those who lost their lives in front of the 9/11 memorial in the park.
“As we remember those who bravely responded and gave their lives to save others, may we draw strength from their selfless sacrifice; as we stand with strangers who became neighbors, that day, we give thanks for their generosity and hospitality,” Chaminade High School President Bro. Thomas Cleary, S.M. said. “May it remind us all of the call to be Good Samaritans, reaching out across race and culture.”