The ring of a bell echoed through the North Hempstead Town Hall Tuesday morning after each of the 56 names council members recited, memorializing local individuals, many in their 30s and 40s, who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Religious leaders, politicians, firefighters and high schoolers were among those who gathered at the town’s memorial service for the 17th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Town Clerk Wayne Wink Jr. moderated the ceremony.
Michelle Schimel, a former member of the state Assembly, recited “The Truly Great,” a poem by Stephen Spender. Wink noted that he received an influx of poetry this time 17 years ago as people used art to respond to the tragedy.
“The moment of Sept. 11th resonated with so many people in creative ways as well as in lasting memories,” he said. “It really is a testament to the residents of our town and those throughout the country who suffered that they made every effort to remember that day and those events in verse as well as in song and in prose.”
The Rev. Victor Lewis of Friendship Baptist Church of Roslyn said that the emotions he felt during and after the tragedy were part of the reason he decided to become a pastor.
“I had faith before that day but not like the day after,” he said. “I thought I had problems but I realized I didn’t have problems the day after. I had what I believed was issues with people in my life, with friends and family, but those issues became trivial the day after.”
Isma Chaudhry, the president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, spoke after him, praising Americans for developing camaraderie after the tragedy.
“That was the day that strangers became the source of strength and comfort for each other,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D–Glen Cove) also spoke, with a call for Americans to remember the value of lives and to be less cynical and contrarian.
“On Sept. 10, think of the things that were important that day, and then everything changed,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could recapture that feeling of how important our lives really are? What we need to do with our life. How we need to treat each other.”
The St. Mary’s High School chamber choir sang “Beautiful City” from the musical “Godspell” followed by “America the Beautiful.”
The service included two moments of silence, the first at 8:46 a.m. and the second at 9:03 a.m., the times that the planes struck the towers.