Ever since 9-11 there was a score to settle. It wasn’t enough that the United States military crushed the Taliban at Tora Bora. He had somehow gotten away, snaking his way through the rocky, labyrinthine trails deep in the Afghan mountains and into some godforsaken sanctuary. President Bush said it didn’t really matter he got away; but in truth the fact gnawed at him and it gnawed at all Americans who knew that as long as he was free there was unfinished business.
Prior to the regular meeting, Mayor Tweedy called upon Chief Everett Ulmer to present his annual report to the mayor and board of trustees. Fire Chief Ulmer read his annual report for the year April 20, 2010 to April 19, 2011. Following his report, Chief Ulmer introduced the newly elected staff for 2011-2012.
Fire Chief John B. Kelleher, Jr.
1st Assistant Chief Vincent F. Modica
2nd Assistant Chief Luciano D’Amore
3rd Assistant Chief Daniel Bennett
4th Assistant Chief Brian P. Naughton
If it is true that melodies of the soul arise from nature’s majesty, then the glorious, lambent light of this Easter morning serenaded us with the poetry of being alive. The other week, I cautioned the religiously inclined about the dangers of seeing concrete evidence of God’s design in the physical world. The physics and the biology of the divine is a risky enterprise and that instead of scientific proofs one should instead look for the existence of God in the moral laws inscribed in our hearts as the sine qua non of God’s existence and influence in our world. This does not preclude me from poignantly wondering about the deep and miraculously patterned order of the cosmos. Even Einstein was susceptible to its philosophical charms and the human mind’s peculiar and rapturous affinity to its marvelous architecture stating, “That the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”
President Obama’s speech, at George Washington University, regarding Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s deficit reduction plan underscores the Administration’s insouciance and ho-hum flippancy in marshaling efforts to control spending. The president’s plan does little more than add a coat of paint to a building crumbling at its very foundation. Obama sought not so much to correct as to disembowel Ryan’s budget, calling it, in effect, un-American by its attempt to change the social compact that has been a staple of American society since the New Deal. Stark images of traumatized, white-haired grannies, pauperized school districts and a distressed working class flood the airwaves, dramatizing the impact of such cuts. It is as if Republicans had taken a rusted hacksaw to the body politic, pitilessly sawing off the green limbs of life.
On April 2, two days before I was to be sworn in as your new mayor, I had the privilege of joining other elected officials, firefighters, EMS personnel, 9-11 families and friends at a ceremony at Reliance Firehouse. That day, the Patriot Flag was to be flown in honor of those lost on 9-11. The ceremonial arch, which we saw too often after the attacks of 9-11, where two fire apparatus, their ladders fully extended, suspend the flag between the two towers. However, the gale force winds that day proved too strong for the anchors and the now untethered flag floated softly to the ground. Immediately scores of those attending rushed to lift the flag from the ground. The relationship we shared to the flag changed. We were no longer dwarfed by the enormous flag towering high above us, but instead, we supported it. We held the flag, that tactile sense was now uniting us. As we held the flag facing each other, one was drawn to thoughts of each other’s experience and relationship of that day. The reverence and silence after each dignitary spoke was moving. That enormous flag was not the iconic vision it was intended to be that morning, but instead an intimate symbol of what it truly represents. That flag pulled us together as one that morning, united by the principles that identify us as Americans and the event that defines us as New Yorkers. As the NCPD helicopter flew low and slow over the solemnity, there was a collective mournful reflection over the loss of so many. But the strength we drew from each other, the dignity as we stood united, physically connected to each other by our flag, our freedoms and our country could not have been more appropriately expressed than they were on that gusty morning in Floral Park.
The Mineola schools are going through a major change, and change is usually difficult, and rarely easy. We are fortunate to have three board members with the vision to see the need to change the district schools, and the courage to do what is necessary, especially in the face of significant resistance, both on the part of the public, and even some board members.
A regular meeting of the Floral Park Board of Trustees was held on April 5, at 8 p.m. The meeting opened with a pledge to the flag. Present were Mayor Thomas J. Tweedy, Trustees James E. Rhatigan, Mary-Grace Tomecki, Dominick A. Longobardi, Kevin M. Fitzgerald, Village Administrator Patrick E. Farrell, Village Clerk Susan E. Walsh, Superintendent of Building Department and Superintendent of Public Works Stephen L. Siwinski and Police Lieutenant Michael Suppe.
It was one of those roundabout conversations where people were just sitting around sipping cocktails and talking about such novelties as, well, the weather for instance, when an evangelical acquaintance of mine abruptly asked if I believed in “Intelligent Design.” Well, I said, ‘if you’re talking about the U.S. Congress, the answer is no.’ This invited a few chuckles but, of course, I realized this question had nothing to do with Washington politics; nor was it intended to ascertain if I believed that an elegant, sentient mechanism is at work in creating life on Earth but was, in fact, nothing less than an inquiry into whether I believed in God.
It was an extravaganza of bloodshed; so potent and sweeping in its consequences; so deadly in the colliding of human forces that it has been thrust to the forefront of the historical stage as America’s grand opera. Yet so little is heard or said about the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. Perhaps, this is because so much has been written that we have become numb to how our country had once so bloodily and tragically turned upon itself.
I owe a great deal of gratitude to the countless women who paved the way for women like me to contribute to society. Unfortunately, we recently lost one of these pioneers, former Congresswoman and Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, when she passed away of blood cancer this week. Geraldine opened the door for a generation of new leaders. She certainly was an inspiration – and ultimately mentor — to me as I sought my own path in public service years ago.
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