BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Haverstraw – Rockland residents, officials, police, emergency personnel, and members of the armed forces joined together at Haverstraw Bay Park’s 9/11 memorial on Wednesday to mark the 12th anniversary of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001 and honor the memory of friends and family lost that day.
The ceremony opened with bagpipe music from the Rockland County Police Emerald Society and an entry by the Rockland County Sheriff Department Honor Guard before brief reflections from county leaders on the healing and growth the county and nation experienced since the attacks.
“The purpose is to remember those innocents and heroes who were lost,” County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said. “The purpose is to remember that the fabric of the country was changed forever on that day. The purpose is not just to remember, not just to mourn. The purpose is to remember just who we are, the vigilance, and the renewal for tomorrow.”
County Legislator Douglas Jobson explained that though the memory of 9/11 had been imprinted into the memory of those who experienced it, there is still a need to communicate its significance to younger generations.
“There are new young people that don’t even know what happened on 9/11, so we have to make sure the message is crystal clear to them what took place, how we responded to it, and what a strong and vigilant people we are,” Jobson explained.
At 8:46 and 9:03 a.m., a bell was rung to commemorate the exact times of the attacks. Five more tolls were given for the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
Also included was a traditional reading of the names of the deceased by surviving friends and family and a collection of poetry and music, including a moving rendition of Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” sung by Cantor Sally Neff Greenberg.
In closing, the crowd joined Julie Graifman in singing “God Bless America” before the Emerald Society made their exit to “Amazing Grace,” leaving attendees to a somber day of reflection.
Haverstraw Bay Park’s 9/11 memorial includes a beam from one of the World Trade Center towers which casts a shadow over several memorials in accordance to the times of the attacks. 2013 is the first since Hurricane Sandy damaged the park, requiring repairs and restoration work.
“Haverstraw Bay Park is a peaceful, happy place, and that is why it is the perfect place for this exquisite memorial to the men and women we lost on September 11th,” County Legislative Chairwoman Harriet Cornell said.
In addition to the service in Haverstraw, smaller ceremonies were held in at the Ramapo Town Hall, Donna Hallet Park in Suffern, Memorial Park in Nyack, New City’s 9/11 memorial in Clarkstown and at Rockland Community College in Suffern.