Not one seat was left untaken at as hundreds came together as a community Sunday night to witness an uplifting and inspirational 9/11 memorial service which carried a powerful message of strength, hope, freedom and most importantly to always remember.
In the words of Deacon Paul Carris of , a survivor of the World Trade Center attacks, “We should remember the lives of those no longer with us. Whether it’s from 9/11 or another tragedy. Remember what they meant to us and how much they impacted our lives. Remember the gifts we have been given.”
For Carris himself, “I have been given 10 more years to watch our daughters turn into beautiful young women. It’s a precious gift.”
Carris reminded the community that while the period after Sept. 11, 2001, was emotional, the world did not end. “We should not let our lives be defined by tragedy,” Carris said. All tragedies, whether big or small, are part of life, just as dying is part of living, he said.
“Do we want to have fear stop us from living? The answer should be a resounding no,” Carris said adding that it’s what people do to cope when their lives have been turned upside down that matters.
He told his fellow neighbors that, “We need to live as a community. A community where we can love our neighbors as ourselves. A community that supports each other. We can’t change the world to make it better but we can affect the lives of each of us around here.”
“When we turn the focus around, away from ourselves to others, we find an amazing thing happens. We feel better.”
Part of the services included the formal dedication of the steel beams which were once part of the World Trade Center. Councilman David Gonzalez said the beams are “a symbol of strength and a symbol of freedom. A decade later we still are a free country. We can recover. We will not be succumbed to terrorism.”
Several members of the community had messages to share such as Dr. Mark Porto, superintendent of schools, who told the audience that those terrorists may have set out to strike the heart of the American people by attacking the Twin Towers but they failed as this was not where America’s heart lies. Porto said the heart of America lies in its elementary schools across the nation where children are just learning to read and write. “Buildings around us may rise and fall but our American freedom lies in our schools,” he reminded all.
“This is a very moving time for all of us but it is also a time for thanksgiving and for hope,” Mayor Rose Heck commented.
Lee Ciocia, a member of the Class of 2011, shared an essay he wrote from the perspective of his friend Jonathan Marrero whose father Jose Marrero was killed in the WTC attacks. The story depicted the emotions the young man went through on that fateful day, from saying goodbye to his father that morning before he left for work to coming home to grieving family members when he returned from school.
Members of the crowd sang along as the community choir, made up of members of church choirs from Corpus Christi, the and , sang ‘God Bless America’ and “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Images of the World Trade Center attacks were shown on a screen behind the podium as the firemens' memorial bell was rung 10 times in memory of those who were lost on 9/11. The first ring was in memory of Robert Miller, of Hasbrouck Heights, and all the innocent civilians who died on 9/11. The second for the families who carry on without their loved ones. The third bell was rung in memory of all the firefighters who lost their lives. The fourth for the families of those firefighters.
The fifth bell was in memory of the police officers who lost their lives on 9/11; the sixth bell for the families of those police officers. The seventh bell was for the emergency medical personnel who lost their lives on 9/11 and the eighth for their families. The ninth bell was rung in memory of the servicemen and women who have lost their lives fighting terrorism and the tenth for the rescue workers who have died from health complications from working at Ground Zero.
The ceremony began at dusk with a procession by hundreds of community members. A bagpiper and honor guard led the group from Corpus Christi Church up Washington Place towards Burton Avenue. Marchers carried red, white and blue glowsticks. Churches along the way rang their bells 10 times as the marchers made their way past.