2,977 American flags on the front lawn of New Rochelle City Hall greeted the people who came to the ten year remembrance of 9/11. Peter Parente, organizer of this event and President of the United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association and Commander of VFW Post 439, praised the Boy Scouts and all the others who had "planted the flags on the lawn." He reminded those assembled that ten years ago we were hit with one of the worst disasters of our time. Parente said, "America will never be the same." Thousands of our military have volunteered to serve so that we can be safe here. He poignantly mentioned his nephew is serving and added, "We pray for his safety."
The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies and Cubs led the pledge of allegiance. This was followed by Kelli Butler of the New Rochelle Opera Company's beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. Msgr. Martin Biglin who is Chaplin of the New Rochelle Fire Department urged everyone assembled to "remember this sad day in our lives...and to seek God's protection" as we observe the tenth anniversary of this tragedy. He suggested everyone should leave the ceremony with a better understanding of what "it means to be a peacemaker."
Parente continued, that everyone should "never forget and never surrender." He gave a short description of Michael Curtin's life of service as a New York City Police Officers and told how in 1993 he repelled onto the roof of the Twin Towers" to rescue people by helicopter. Later in Oklahoma City he dug through the rubble and found two marine recruiters' bodies and stayed with them until these bodies could be draped with a flag. Curtin met his fate in 2011.
Referring to the 2,977 flags that stood for those that were lost on 9/11, Mayor Noam Bramson said the number was too high. He added the flag represented not only a life lost, but also all the lives that each of these persons could have touched had they lived. Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll reinforced the theme for the day: to remember and to never forget. Acknowledging that the 400 to 500 people gathered were showing these sentiments with their attendance at this ceremony, Fire Chief Lou DeMeglio talked about the sorrow we express today. But he added this was "an attack on American Patriotism." In particular the Fire Department suffered a great deal in this tragedy.
Union Baptist Church followed with a musical interlude of God Bless America. The dark night was dramatically changed as the people gathered began to light the candles that had been distributed earlier. Names of New Rochelle residents and a Trans Care member who lost their lives were read. The Rev. Denise Smartt-Sears and Rabbi Amiel Wohl added their thoughts and the Iona College Bagpipes played Amazing Grace. After this a fifteen minute film assembled by the New Rochelle Police Department which reminisced about Ground Zero was shown. Peter Parente, thanking everyone, said, "New Rochelle does remember."
In the audience was Bernadette Princiotta who lost her brother, Captain Vernin Princiotta, from Fire Department Ladder 7, New York City. She thought it was beautiful what the City was doing. Her brother has a beautiful daughter "who doesn't know her daddy." There was some criticism of the people who were standing in front of those who were seated who had lost relatives. Elaine Waltz, President of the South End Civic League thought they were rude. But Jack Speciale remembered this day ten years ago very vividly. He said: I remember "I was going to take my wife to her quilty guilder in Scarsdale and it was a beautiful day. We got a call from a friend who said the building had been hit by a plane. The television was knocked off but from a broadcast on a Spanish station she found out her quilty guilder meeting was canceled." John D'Alois who was one of the speakers that day, said "I think it is fitting that after ten years we have the resolve to come together, to mourn their loss, and still celebrate their life and work together toward healing a nation."
In the Westchester Guardian, September 22,2011