There were words of remembrance, there were words of appreciation and there were words of anger at the 20th annual Cedarhurst 9/11 memorial ceremony at Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park on Sunday.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 20 years ago, four hijacked airplanes killed 2,997 people, took the Twin Towers at the Word Trade Center, rammed into the Pentagon and compelled the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 to try to wrest control of one of those planes from the terrorists and crash it in Shanksville, Pa., possibly saving more lives.
The ceremony, emceed by Cedarhurst Mayor Benjamin Weinstock, included remarks from Weinstock who called for the continued remembrance and education of a day that is “painful” to recall but needs to be remembered by those who did not experience the tragedy.
John Feal, who survived a harrowing accident at Ground Zero when a falling steel beam landed on his foot, said: “Twenty years and one day, for many its 20 years, for those of us directly impacted by that horrific Tuesday morning and the following, days, weeks and months, and now 20 years, it’s the longest day in the history of days.” Feal runs the FealGood Foundation that advocates for first responders.
Town of Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman reflected on his nephew Thomas Jurgens, a New York state court officer and a volunteer firefighter who raced to the scene and died. “Tommy was a wonderful boy, he set the bar very high for our family,” Blakeman said. “When I see our volunteer firefighters, especially those from his home firehouse in Meadowmere Park, I think of Tommy.”
Corinne Strom, recounted how the residents of Lawrence and Cedarhurst have honored her father Kevin O’Rourke, a FDNY and volunteer firefighter with the Lawrence-Cedarhurst and Hewlett departments, who also died at Ground Zero.
“Whether it was lining Central Avenue, clapping and waving flags as he arrived at his final Mass at St. Joachim’s to dedicating the street in front of LCFD firehouse and a truck in his name, his first firehouse home to the scholarships given in his name so children my follow their dreams like he did his,” Strom said as a Long Island Rail Road train pulled into the Cedarhurst station, a reminder that a portion of people who commuted to work that morning did not come home at night.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran spoke, Deacon Dan Otton gave the invocation and Rabbi Benjamin Samson gave the benediction.
There were musical performances by Lawrence High School students overseen by director of music Pam Gallopini. Sivan Lanaido, Stephanie Lopez and Leslie Melendez Melgar sang under the direction of Shelly Goldman. Didier Gordillo, Audrey Michlig, Xian Scott, Emma Urgen and Ilia Urgen performed under the direction of Andrew Krahm. Band director Brian Stabile played “Taps.”
This story will be expanded in the Sept. 16 edition of the Nassau Herald.