Alongside the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Hempstead Town hosted its annual sunrise memorial program, Long Island’s only interactive ceremony. Attendees at the event played an active and integral role in a moving tribute to the heroes who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The ceremony, which attracted hundreds of residents from across the region focused on the legacy of 9-11 victims and the theme of “renewal.”
A powerful focal point of the ceremony was an 18-foot tall, chromium replica of the World Trade Center, rising majestically from the shoreline. The towers were set against a new 35-foot long “inspiration mural,” depicting Manhattan’s skyline. A tribute fountain rested at the base of the compelling memorial display.
As part of the program, participants were asked to cast white carnations upon the fountain. Attendees were also given permanent markers and invited to write the names of loved ones who perished in the attacks or of illnesses related to their work at Ground Zero upon the inspiration mural. The final interactive component had guests placing miniature American flags, which included message tags, at a sand platform in front of the towers.
“We are compelled to return to this beach on an annual pilgrimage of personal reflection and renewal in communion with the victims who perished on the saddest day in this nation’s history,” stated Murray. “Hundreds of neighbors return to this location each year, the same place where they gathered immediately after the 9-11 attacks, looking toward the site of the once majestic towers in horror and disbelief.”
Additional elements of the ceremony included performances by the Kellenberg Gregorian Consortium, dove release, memorial fire bell ringing, fire truck flag arch, bagpipe procession as well as speeches by the Town Supervisor and religious leaders.
A keynote speech was offered by two local residents, Morgan Stanley employees who were fire marshals on the 73rd floor of the south tower. When the second plane hit they stayed to help others off their floor and miraculously made it out of the building before it collapsed.
The ceremony was attended by many families who had loved ones perish on September 11th or of 9-11 related illnesses. The families have found solace in the seaside ceremony year after year.
“The legacy of love and hope of the victims of the terrorist attacks serves as a vibrant tribute to their memory and holds the promise of renewal for future generations,” said Supervisor Murray.
Sponsors who supported the memorial program included Stop and Shop Supermarkets and Zwanger Pesiri Radiology.