More than 100 people gathered for Clarkstown’s Remembrance Ceremony to honor the memory of the 82 Rockland residents and others with ties to the county who lost their lives in the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
Speaking about the losses many families suffered, Clarkstown Police Department Chaplain David Lothrop, said “Yet we know beautiful and wonderful memories of them will never be lost. Their spirits continue to shine in the darkness.”
Lothrop led the ceremony, which began with a Clarkstown Police Department Honor Guard posting the colors in front of the 9/11 Memorial which lists the names of county residents who perished on one side and the names of 25 Clarkstown residents on the other.who lost his brother, Brian, on September 11, 2001, led the Pledge of Allegiance and Rockland resident Maya Days sang the Star Spangled Banner.
The ceremony in the park adjacent to Clarkstown Town Hall was filled with family, friends, veterans and officials; some sitting, some perched on walls but most standing. Uniformed members of the Clarkstown Police Department, the New City, Nanuet, Valley Cottage, Congers, West Nyack and Central Nyack fire departments stood in a row along Maple Avenue with Congers-Valley Cottage, New City, Nanuet and Spring Hill volunteer ambulance corps personnel nearby.
Town Supervisor Alex Gromack told the audience the strength that comes from within builds slowly over time. He said it is a duty to remember what happened that day.
“It does not wipe away any of the tears that we shed or the hundred tears that we fought back from shedding,” said Gromack. “It does not wipe away the memories of anger. It does not help us forget, it only helps us remember.”
Gromack, Town Board Members Shirley Lasker, Frank Borelli, George Hoehmann and Stephanie Hausner and Police Chief Michael Sullivan read the names of who those died, pausing after each one as a bell was solemnly rung. As some names were recited, family members and friends stood up to acknowledge their memory.
The Police Honor Guard laid a wreath on the memorial and a moment of silence was observed for those who lost their lives on 9/11 at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, Shanksville, PA and afterwards and the soldiers who died overseas fighting the battle against terrorism.
On the rooftop of town hall several stories above the ceremony John Finnen of the Clarkstown Central School District played TAPS. Bagpipers from the Rockland County Police Emerald Society Pipe & Drums performed Amazing Grace and The Hudson Voices of the Rockland County Choral Society sang God Bless America and the audience joined in.
Lothrop acknowledged the difficulty of the decade that has passed.
“It has been a long journey without your loved one beside you,” he said. “We shall always remember the great courage you have shown. Now it is our prayer that your loved one will always rest in peace.”
After the tribute, State Senator David Carlucci said it is critical for younger generations to understand the courage of the first responders.
"When people were running away, we had first responders, many from Rockland County running in,” he said. It is important to teach new generations to pay respects to the loved ones we lost.”
Congressman Eliot Engle said after 10 years the pain remains intense.
“September 11th is something all of us as New Yorkers as Americans suffered through,” he said. “It’s something that happened here. It’s still raw.”
Among the officials attending the ceremony were State Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, County Legislative Chairwoman Harriet Cornell, County Legislator Ed Day, Sheriff James Kralik, Chief of the Sheriff’s Patrol Louis Falco, District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, Town Clerk Justin Sweet and others.