By Michael Riconda
A special ceremony was held at the Ramapo Town Hall at 7 p.m. on September 10 to honor the memories of those lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The ceremony was attended by friends and loved ones of those lost in the attacks, the Ramapo Town Board, representatives of the state and county legislatures, police, fire, and emergency personnel, and others who were affected by the tragedy.
Following the entrance of the Ramapo Police Honor Guard, a stirring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Nicole Plumley of the Ramapo Recreation Department, and Monsignor Joseph R. Giandurco of the Sacred Heart Church gave an invocation. Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence then introduced Jay S. Winuk, the co-founder of the charitable organization My Good Deed and the “9/11 Day of Service.” As a symbol of gratitude for Winuk’s efforts in making the day of service a reality, St. Lawrence presented Winuk with Ramapo’s 9/11 Service Award.
Winuk, whose brother Glenn was a volunteer firefighter who lost his life in the World Trade Center’s South Tower, began the push for a national day of service to commemorate the date and encourage the same heroism which saved so many lives on 9/11.
“After losing Glenn, I realized as never before just how many lives each of us touches, the effect each individual has on so many others, and really the power each of us has to make a difference,” Winuk said.
Winuk has encouraged participation in the 9/11 Day of Service not only aid to those affected by the attacks, but also aid to the community as a whole. As part of last year’s service activities, Winuk, his co-founder David Paine and their families participated in an effort to clean up and renovate a grade school in Manhattan. For this year’s Day of Service, he will be participating in the refurbishment of a veteran’s center.
According to Winuk, participants in the Day of Service have contributed in both small and large ways, ranging from baking red white and blue cookies for local fire departments to encouraging friends and family to register to vote. In total, 30 million people took part in the Day of Service last year.
“We want people to do anything in their own comfort zone,” Winuk said. “Any good deed counts.”
Other speakers included New York State Senator David Carlucci and Sheldon Ohren, the newly-elected national commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America. Ohren reiterated the position that the attacks backfired in the sense that they unified the nation rather than destroying it and demonstrated the persistence of those affected.
“You the families have shown the rest of us the way, quietly honoring the memory of your loved ones by how you live and what you do,” Ohren stated.
The most somber moment of the ceremony came with the reading of the names of 22 victims from the village of Ramapo, with each name marked by the ringing of a memorial bell. Family and friends participated by placing flowers by the Memorial Beam, a piece of debris recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.
With the reading of one name, a woman cried aloud to her lost loved one that he will be missed, reflecting sentiments offered by Reverend Walter Brightman, the chaplain for the Ramapo Police Department.
“We give our lives for each other because we love each other.”