The Town of New Castle 20th anniversary 9/11 Memorial Commemoration meaningfully and elegantly honored the memories of Michael Berkeley, Donald Greene, Louis Steven Inghiterra, George Morell and Allan Schwartztein.
These individuals were at one time New Castle residents “who lost their lives on September 11th along with their family and friends left behind,” as noted in the opening page of a Memorial journal of reflections prepared by a committee (private donations covered its cost) to commemorate the event. The journal contains remembrances of the day from family members of the deceased, current residents of those lost that day, and New Castle First Responders, according to Emily Bloom, a representative from the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps., who was on the committee. Their moving stories along with the full program, the day’s and journal’s acknowledgments, can be found on the Town website at www.mynewcastle.org.
Those who attended the ceremony at Gedney Park were reminded by speakers of both the unity of spirit and purpose felt by so many following the horrific events that took place, and also of the heroic efforts by first responders who prevented a far worse destruction.
In a gorgeous symbolic project, Boy Scout Troops 1, 2 and 3 planted 2977 American flags, each one in remembrance of a life lost, in the field adjacent to the service.
Following welcome remarks by Acting Town Supervisor Jeremy Saland, State Senator Peter Harckham, spoke on behalf of Thomas Dunne, retired Deputy Chief, FDNY, who could not attend due to a family emergency. Dunne’s statement first recalled the 343 firefighters lost, and then a July 11, ’01 conversation with one close firefighter friend with whom he had fought fires in the Bronx. They discussed a hardware store explosion in Queens which had killed three firefighters on June 17, 2001. His friend had said, “There but for the Grace of God go you and I.”
Chief Dunne wrote: “In a world full of uncertainties and in a job full of danger, we know it was often just fate that determines our destinies. I could not have know at the time that was to be the last conversation I would ever have with him.”
Harckham noted the need for us to capture the “spirit and support we gave each other in the days and months after 9/11″…. “We live in divisive times. On the morning of 9/11/2001, there were no Democrats or Republicans, no liberals or conservatives… it didn’t matter what race or ethnic group you were. There were only people suffering and dying and people stepping up to help each other as we slowly recovered and pieced our world back together. Let us hold the memories in our hearts but also honor them by our action by continuing to take care of each other.”
Michael Wolfensohn, Millwood Fire Commissioner, who had played a key role in bringing a 9/11 Memorial to New Castle, shared personal remembrances, and then conveyed that the day’s meaning were “one of hope and one of community”…
“We not only honor memory of those lost but honor the countless volunteers who dedicated endless hours providing comfort and support… reminding us not to lose that newfound spirit of patriotism and community that we all felt in the days following 9/11.
“9/11 was the most successful evacuation in our country’s history. That was due to our First Responders and to citizens helping citizens. 500,000 people evacuated New York City that day by boat, another couple hundred thousand walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, 87% of the people survived that day. If you were in the North Tower, below the impact zone, 99% survived… “Please carry that spirit of unity and community every day,” said Wolfensohn.