North Hempstead honors the 56 lost on 9/11

North Hempstead honors the 56 lost on 9/11
First responders watch the North Hempstead 9/11 memorial service in Manhasset. The terrorist attacks resulted in the deaths of 56 Town residents. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer DeSena)

More than two decades after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 killed 2,996 people, including 56 North Hempstead residents, the town hosted its annual memorial service at Manhasset Valley Park on Sunday morning.

Political and religious leaders shared their memories of that terrible day during the event. The park’s Sept. 11 memorial, a 19-foot beam from the World Trade Center, served as a backdrop as residents and first responders in attendance looked on.

“No amount of words said can truly capture the horrors we witnessed on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena. “It’s one of the few moments in history where all of us will forever have crystal clear memories of where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news.”

Town Clerk Ragini Srivastava led the program as council members recited the names of the victims from their districts. Attendees also observed two moments of silence at 8:46 a.m.. when Flight 11, slammed into the North Tower, and 9:03 a.m., when Flight 175 hit the South Tower.

Mayor Bonnie Parente of East Williston recited a resident’s poem, “Angels of America.” The St. Mary’s Chamber Choir also performed “America the Beautiful” and the National Anthem.

Dr. Isma Chaudhry, the president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, asked those who experienced 9/11 to continue telling their stories.

“I distinctly remember that crisp morning and the shock that we endured as a nation, as [humans], that still runs in our veins and across our spines,” she said. “There are children who will learn about 9/11 from textbooks — and from us.”

Chaudry said despite the carnage, the stories that can be told could offer important lessons.

“They will learn from us how we as a nation emerged from intense grief and loss and faced the challenges of living in a post-9/11 world,” she said. “[By] upholding the values of compassion, care and love, they will know the history of American resilience and resolve, especially when faced with the darkness of extremism. From us, they will know how to honor the legacy of the heroes of 9/11.”

Rabbi Osher Kravitsky of Chabad of Great Neck was among the three religious leaders to speak. During his remarks, he spoke of community and the fragility of life.

“Each and every one of us is responsible for our own homes, our own communities, for each other,” said Kravitskty. “It’s very easy to blame others, but we need to be accountable. This is a wake-up call for us to love each other, to respect each other regardless of where we come from or where we are going. We’re all here in this modern world to make it better.”

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