Rabbi Alyssa Mendelson Graf was a student in New York City on the day of the attacks and remembered stepping out of the subway to a beautiful fall day. She described it as a sense of blessing.
Moments later she saw one of her classmates in shock after witnessing the first plane fly into the South Tower, which she had not seen herself.
At the time she said she didn’t know that her cousin, who was a firefighter in Brooklyn Heights, was in his ladder truck driving over the Brooklyn Bridge to the scene after the attack. That was his last ride.
“He ran into the building like so many first responders, brave and maybe afraid but willing to do what it took to save the people whose lives were in jeopardy that day,” Mendelson Graf said.
But in remembering the lives lost that day, Mendelson Graf also recalled the sense of hope that many people experienced as they came together.
The Village of Manorhaven hosted a 9/11 memorial service Monday afternoon to honor the lives lost that day, as well as commemorate the response to the aftermath of the attacks.
“May we never forget that on that day we did not focus on nationality, wealth, education, sex or sexuality,” Sister Kathy Sommerville said. “We focused on need, on humanity, on love.”
The memorial service included a rifle salute by members of the Port Washington VFW #1819, an opening and closing bagpipe hymn by Michael Tedeschi and numerous religious figures and public officials who spoke about the events of 9/11.
Port Washington Fire Chief Matthew Kerin and Port Washington Police Chief Robert Del Muro read the names of the nine Port Washington residents who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with the bell rung when each name was said.
The list included David Scott Agnes, Antonio Jose Carrusca Rodrigues, Neil James Cudmore, Timothy C. Kelly, Frederic Kuo, Justin McCarthy, Bart Joseph Ruggieri, Keiichiro Takahashi and Dinah Webster.
The National Anthem was performed by members of the Long Island Gay Men’s Chorus.
Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte said she was working in Midtown Manhattan the day of the attacks and witnessed the terror that erupted in the city.
“I experienced shock, confusion, sorrow, vulnerability, the thought of so many lives lost or forever changed,” Dalimonte said. “I know mine has changed.”
But in the aftermath of the attacks, Dalimonte didn’t just witness the terror. She said she also saw those feelings turn into vast amounts of support among community members as they braced for their reality.
“Later those initial feelings would give way to a sense of gratitude and unity upon witnessing the bravery and heroism of our police officers, our firefighters and our first responders,” Dalimonte said. “As well as that day, day to day are outpourings of generosity from so many people throughout the country and abroad.”
Rabbi Shalom Paltiel echoed a similar sentiment, saying that as much as this day is about honoring the victims, it is also about supporting the survivors.
“This is about America, this is about unity, this is about things we lost, this is about the loved ones left behind,” Paltiel said. “But it’s also about anyone that was there that day.”
North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said that on the day of Sept. 11, 2001, all lost some and some lost all.
“As a community, as a town, as a country we were attacked by hate and that hate changed us forever,” DeSena said.
But in that change came the response of individuals and communities coming together to face the tragedy regardless of the sacrifice required, DeSena said.
“This is a day for us to remember that type of love,” DeSena said.
DeSena went on to thank the heroes of 9/11, as well as the first responders who continue to fight for and protect their community members.
“Our beautiful town is nothing without those brave men and women who put on that uniform and are trained to help in the event of the unthinkable,” DeSena said.