Family and friends of September 11 victims, servicemen and women, and local politicians paid respects to the lost Tuesday night at Kensico Dam for the 11th anniversary of the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center.
Stationed at the base of the The Rising — a soaring structure at the foot of the dam that honors the dead — hundreds of solemn citizens bowed their heads as victims' names were read aloud. Encircling The Rising is The Circle of Remembrance, which lists notes from victims' families to their lost loved ones.
Tuesday's ceremony also included stirring renditions of God Bless American and Amazing Grace.
"With the passing of years, each anniversary has become easier and harder," said Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino said in part. "Time has helped us heal. But we cannot let it dull our memories. The legacy of 9-11 must be more than a reflection on the past It must also be an inflection toward a better future. One way we can do that is to make each 9/11 anniversary a starting point in service to others -- a day of prayer and remembrance that is also a call to action
for each one of us to commit ourselves to a cause where 'me' becomes 'we.'"
On September 11, 2001, 111 Westchester residents and 12 former residents were killed.
The candlelight ceremony was part of various remembrance activities throughout Westchester organized around the theme of using volunteerism as a way to honor those who died. Many of these events took place earlier in the day at Kensico Dam Plaza. A will take today at the Westchester County Center.
Share your photos from 9/11 remembrances in the gallery above.
Here is the test of remarks made Tuesday evening by Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino:
To the families of 9-11 and especially to Rosaleen O’Neill. I know it’s not easy for you to be here butthank you all for your kindness and your courage.
Thank you to Congresswomen Nita Lowey and Nan Hayworth for the recitation of the Pledge ofAllegiance.
Comptroller DiNapoli, County Legislators, all the elected officials… Bishop Moore… friends andfamilies… thank you all for being here this evening.
4,018 days have now passed since we experienced the worst of humanity.
Evil rained down on us on the morning of September 11, 2001… leaving behind death anddestruction.
But we know that it was love, courage and compassion that won that day.
Ordinary people did extraordinary things.
The great American poet Walt Whitman once said of the anonymous hero, “of unwrit heroes,unknown heroisms, incredible, impromptu, first-class desperations – who tells? No history ever – nopoem sings, no music sounds, those bravest men of all – those deeds.”
Strangely, but wonderfully, the unspeakable evil of 9-11 united us. Our pain was universal, but so toowas the love we shared with families, friends and strangers. Our flag’s colors were brightest duringour darkest hours.
We gather today to commit ourselves to honoring the memory of those deeds – recorded andunrecorded – of those men and women who gave of themselves, who struggled in the dust, whorisked their lives… and those who lost their lives.
The response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor marshaled in the “Greatest Generation.”
Will our generation’s response measure up?
It can… it must… and we will.
Today, we renew our commitment to the souls and survivors of September 11th.
With the passing of years, each anniversary has become easier and harder. Time has helped usheal. But we cannot let it dull our memories.
The legacy of 9-11 must be more than a reflection on the past. It must also be an inflection toward abetter future.
One way we can do that is to make each 9-11 anniversary a starting point in service to others.
A day of prayer and remembrance that is also a call to action for each one of us to commit ourselvesto a cause where “me” becomes “we.”
Grandiose plans are not required… only a commitment to serve in some small way.
Check in on an elderly neighbor…
… clean up a park or river.
… donate groceries to the food bank.
…volunteer at a hospital or senior center.
… become a youth sports’ team coach.
… write a letter to a soldier overseas.
… help teach a child to read.
From these simple deeds, a spirit of generosity will grow that can change the world for the better.
Just as surely as the Freedom Tower rising out of the ashes of Ground Zero shows our nation’sresilience and resolve…
….actions of care and kindness will also tell the world who we are as friends, neighbors andAmericans.
May God heal the hearts of all those who suffered such terrible loss on that fateful day.
May He continue to bless these United States of America…
And may we all pick up the call to find ways – no matter how small – to help each other.