NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- They come each year to honor Amy Doherty, who was lost in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, and to celebrate the place of "light and life" that has grown from her memory.
They gather at the Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center, home to Amy's Greenhouse, which was built with donations in Doherty's name. It has become a center of learning and personal growth for students.
"We come here for the celebration of life and light - our moments of joy and our moments of strength - as we see these curious, wonderful minds become more enthusiastic and creative," said Iona College Brother Kevin Devlin.
Doherty was the daughter of Geraldine Davie, who was a teacher at Barnard on September 11, 2001.
The annual Amy's Greenhouse 9-11 Memorial Ceremony was held in the auditorium this year because of the threat of rain. Afterward, participants toured the greenhouse. There, they viewed educational exhibits showing the authentic learning experiences children receive. In the ceremony, held a day later than usual because school was closed on Tuesday, New Rochelle police officers and firefighters received a standing ovation.
New Rochelle Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie read the Toni Morrison poem, "The Dead of September 11." State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, state Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Westchester County Clerk Timothy Idoni, who was New Rochelle's mayor during September 2001, and others addressed the audience.
The greenhouse opened in 2005. A patio and gazebo were added later. The center serves students born years after the tragedy, including the second-graders who were happy to sing as part of this week's ceremony.
"I like singing because that's my thing," said one of the students, Elizabeth Adamson.
Kathleen Connelly, the Amy's Greenhouse coordinator, announced 25 new bricks purchased by community members to honor those lost, to welcome new babies to the world and on behalf of local businesses.
Geraldine Davie said the annual ceremony eases what is a challenging time of year for her.
"Amy's looking down on me. She's looking down on all of you," she said. "Thank you all. I'm so grateful!"