Written by Paul Ehrbar Friday, 21 September 2012 00:00
This past Tuesday, on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, I attended two separate memorial services representing Williston Park. Both were emotional affairs as that horrible day of 11 years ago, and the effects of that event were discussed by all the prominent speakers present. The first was held in a serene setting at Clark Gardens hosted by the Town of North Hempstead, at 8:30 a.m. The early morning weather conditions were eerily similar to the weather conditions of eleven years ago. The second was held at Kelleher field. Once again this was a highly emotional event attended by a number of local dignitaries, local clergy, representatives of the WPFD, American Legion, VFW, WP Auxiliary Police, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, young athletes, both male and female, and many of our residents. I’d like to use this opportunity to present my speech as given on Tuesday, September 11, 2012.
“Good evening, 9/11 related families, honored guests, dignitaries, clergy, and residents on this somber occasion of the remembrance of the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
I’m honored to represent the Village of Williston Park. With me this evening are Deputy Mayor Kevin Rynne and Trustee Terry Thoman Trustee. Mike Uttarro a volunteer fireman is unable to attend due to illness. Trustee Carr could not be here as he is attending a Nycom conference, in Lake Placid, on behalf of the Village.
Special acknowledgement and thanks to Bill Darmstadt who, for the fifth year, has organized this event. Five years ago, Bill had an idea and worked to initially set up the memorial garden and has continued to make improvements with both the garden and this annual program Thanks to John Hogan who once again has taken on the difficult role of MC. And of course thanks to the Williston Park Little League as they continue to host this honored tradition.
Many speakers today and over the past eleven years have given extremely important messages while commenting on this tragedy. It’s difficult for me to try and add to these comments as many of those both before me and after me will speak or have spoken much more eloquently than I.
This morning as I sat at Clark Gardens during the Town of North Hempstead’s observance, my mind flashed back to 2001. This morning was quite similar to that fateful day. I, as well as most, can vividly visualize the scenes that played out as this tragic event unfolded. Emotions for all went from surprise, shock, anger, compassion, frustration, hate for those committing the atrocity, love for those affected, disappointment, and sorrow, to cover a few. I, with thousands of others, raced to the blood center to donate to what was believed to be a major need. However the facilities were unable to handle the excessive number of potential donors. My wife Doreen, mayor of Williston Park at the time of the event, was directed to remain at the hospital facility where she was employed to help with the expected arrival of patients in need. The anticipated needs did not materialize as expected, due to the number of deaths as opposed to injured. 2983 individuals from all walks of life lost their lives that day.
As you look around the Little League Field and view the participants, it is what the terrorists were attacking that day, our American way of life.
While this is truly a national tragedy, the events have impacted our local areas more so than anywhere else in the U.S.
Although it has been difficult, the resiliency of the people of our country and village has been strengthened with our resolve to move forward.
Two comments I have heard dealing with 9/11 have bothered me immensely. Two separate commentators have referred to the celebration of 9/11 and the festivities of 9/11. Neither word is anywhere near appropriate. We remember and honor those who lost their lives and their families. Although this country and its citizens have been permanently scarred, the annual memorial is a major factor in the healing process. We will never celebrate or hold festivities on this date.
We must continue to honor all those families impacted by this event, including first responders and all those who continue to suffer as a result of 9/11. Keep them all in your prayers.
God bless them, our Armed Forces, those involved in the ongoing war on terrorism, and God bless America.”