Three lit candles. Three New York State Court officers. Three lives. "Nine years ago, 2,752 New Yorkers began a journey that would take them from being ordinary citizens to individuals who would never be forgotten. We come here this morning to remember and to honor all those who were lost, among them, three very special court officers," Judge Anthony Marano said Monday morning in the ceremonial court room of the State Supreme Court building.
Sergeants Thomas Jergens, Mitchell Wallace and Captain William Thompson were all present for the attacks on the World Trade Center. Wallace forwent signing in, instead grabbing his EMT bag and heading for the towers. Jergerns, another EMT would not leave the injured when he was told the situation was too dangerous. Sergeant Frank Barry was with Thompson that morning. Now a chaplain, Barry credits his departed captain with his decision to become a chaplain. "On September 11, 2001 I saw firsthand what hate can do but I also saw what can be accomplished by love," he said in his invocation. "It was love that drove so many to ignore the extreme danger and do whatever was necessary to fulfill their oath: to protect and to serve."
The sergeant also quoted a passage from Psalm 27, specifically:
"When evil men advance against me, my heart will not fear. From the day of trouble, He will keep me safe, He will set me high upon His rock, I will be lifted above the enemies around me and I will see the goodness of the Lord."
"I saw Harry Thompson go to the World Trade Center with no fear," Barry said, "and my faith is that God did indeed lift Harry out (of) there. Every uniformed professional who responded acted with love, courage, honor and commitment to help people in a desperate situation; they went far and above the call of duty."
"Our three court officers who worked near the World Trade Center, they had no duty, they had no obligation, they had no responsibility to go to the Twin Towers, yet they did so," Marano said following renditions of "God Bless America," "Amazing Grace," and "America the Beautiful" from the New York State pipe and drum band. "They answered a deeper call, one that transformed the ordinary into the heroic."
The names of the three officers as well as the over 350 names of Nassau County residents were read by attorneys, court officers and family and friends as a silver bell was intermittently struck. "Please remember those who gave their lives to save others," Barry said, "for their can be no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends."
Outside of the court room in the main entrance a large patchwork quilt hangs from the ceiling, with each of the names stitched onto a square patch. Measuring 16 feet high by 17 feet wide, the quilt was handmade by students from Susan Pepper's third grade class at Barnum Woods Elementary school in East Meadow. "We want to thank you for creating and providing us with what's commonly known as 'the quilt of angels', it's an extraordinary work of art," Marano said to Pepper, whose current crop of students, along with another class from Mrs. Jodi Covello, were present to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.