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Editorial: Steps From Ground Zero

In commemoration of 9/11, the Brooke Jackman Foundation (BJF) is commemorating its 11th anniversary with their 3rd annual read-a-thon. The nonprofit organization named for Brooke, an Oyster Bay High School alumna, promotes literacy for at-risk children in the greater New York area. The event, A Celebration of Literacy and Hope will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8, from noon to 1:30 pm, just steps from Ground Zero at the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan. Hosted by Arts Brookfield, this free public event for children and families will celebrate the positive, transformative power of literacy.

The 11th annual Read-a-thon will also debut readings from a newly published collection of stories and illustrations from the kids in the foundation’s programs, called ABC, My Family & Me: An Alphabet Book by the Kids of the Brooke Jackman Foundation. All proceeds from the sale of the book support the work of BJF.

“For more than a decade, we have sponsored literacy programs across New York City, and the Read-a-thon allows for all of our children to gather and share their love of learning,” said Erin Jackman, Brooke’s sister and BJF’s executive director. “Just as the rising of the Freedom Tower marks the progress that New York City has made since 9/11, the growing popularity of the Brooke Jackman Foundation Read-a-thon and the publication of our first book of stories and illustrations from the kids in our programs marks the progress that we are making in advancing youth literacy.”

The Brooke Jackman Foundation was created 11 years ago to honor Brooke Jackman, a bright and compassionate 23-year-old who was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks before achieving her dream of becoming a social worker. Brooke was an avid reader, and her passion and commitment to literacy and helping children spurred the Jackman family to create BJF as her living legacy – turning tragedy and despair into hope for a better world. Since 2001, the Brooke Jackman Foundation has donated nearly 100,000 books and almost 15,000 Brooke Packs, backpacks filled with books and school supplies, to children and families in need. BJF has established four libraries, as well as a number of after-school literacy programs, at sites across all five boroughs, including homeless shelters and Family Justice Centers for victims of domestic violence and crime in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. The Brooke Jackman Foundation Read-a-thon recognizes the hope born from the tragic events of that day and celebrates the resiliency of New York and its children.

Simply put, they made lemonade out of lemons. They didn’t allow Osama Ben Laden to dictate the future and instead fueled and fulfilled Brooke’s dreams.

Aug. 30, at the Republican Convention in New Orleans, Olympic athlete Derek Parra, a speed skater, spoke about the honor of being one of six people who carried the World Trade Center flag into the stadium in Salt Lake City. He said his most powerful memory of the Olympics was holding that flag.

“When it came time to begin the procession, I touched the flag for the first time, and I remember a physical sensation unlike anything I had ever experienced. If it’s possible to feel your soul being touched, then that is what I felt,” he said.

That flag touched Mr. Parra the way the attack on the Twin Towers touched all of us and continues to affect all of us.

Oyster Bay will again commemorate 9/11 with a ceremony at the Western Waterfront’s 9/11 Memorial Garden that is being arranged by NYS Senator Carl Marcellino’s office. It will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 10 a.m. In case of inclement weather, it will still be held.

The Town of Oyster Bay will hold their 9/11 Memorial Ceremony Friday, Sept. 7, beginning at 7 p.m. at Tobay Beach. Kaye Weninger, chair of the Locust Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony said their event will take place at the gazebo in Thomas Park from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 9. As we went to press, the Village of Bayville had not announced their 9/11 plans.

— DFK.