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Long Island Pays Tribute to Victims, Heroes on 9/11 Anniversary
Memorial services were held all across Long Island Wednesday to remember the more than 400 Nassau and Suffolk County residents who were among 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
The 12th anniversary of the attacks brought out an outpouring of emotion, as elected officials, law enforcement and families honored those who perished.
In Hauppauge, a bell tolled 177 times as an emotional Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone read the names of each Suffolk resident who died at the World Trade Center.
“For us, today is about all of the names that we see on this memorial,” Bellone said, pointing to the 9/11 memorial garden behind him where all 177 names are etched in glass. “We will never forget them.”
Bellone held a one-minute moment of silence at 8:45 a.m., the moment the first plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and then again at 9:03 a.m., when the South Tower was struck.
The county executive was visibly upset as he slowly read off each name, pausing several times as he honored the victims.
“They were part of the fabric of our communities,” Bellone said.
Suffolk County Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services Commissioner Joseph Williams, a retired New York City firefighter, called Wednesday a “very solemn day,” because it brought back memories of friends who gave up their lives to charge into the burning buildings.
“It’s a very sad day for me,” he said following the service. “It’s so important to remember what happened that day.”
“We can never forget that as a country, the same way we never forget Pearl Harbor or anything like that,” he said. “We have to keep that memory going, we need to pass it on to the next generation to let them know exactly what happened that day.”
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber, who along with Williams placed a red, white and blue wreath on the memorial site. He acknowledged that the emotional scars still have yet to fade.
“It’s a tremendous loss to the community as a whole and in addition to law enforcement and firefighters and EMS people who lost their lives in a senseless act,” Webber said afterward. “And all of us lost friends and relatives so it’s that much more meaningful when you can personalize it.”
In Westbury, members of the Islamic Center of Long Island, the mosque that has played an important role in building bridges with the local community amid backlash following the attacks, joined other religious leaders to donate nearly 4,000 items of food to St. Brigid’s church to aid the needy.
“It’s a day for reflection,” Habeeb Ahmed, chairman of the ICLi, told the Press. “If human beings do not behave, sometimes they go out of control and do evil things and this is not good for humanity. When we do mark these anniversaries, it gives us people who are left to reflect upon what has happened and to see that these things don’t happen again to any community, to any nation.”
Rev. Mark Lukens of Bethany Congregational Church in East Rockaway, noted that it was important for people of difference faiths to come together for one common purpose on the anniversary of the attacks.
“The only hope for any of us is if we reach out to one another and begin to embrace each other, to learn about each other, and to build new bridges so that this kind of thing is not repeated on any level,” he said.
The Happaugue service was one of several being held all across Nassau and Suffolk through the evening.
“Today, we stand together and remember the pain of those who lost mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, friends and family,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. “We also remember the brave men and women who charged into burning buildings and charred rubble to save the lives of the innocent. We renew our faith in democracy and the unbeatable American spirit that cannot be defeated by cowardly acts of terrorism.”