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A Night of Remembrance

On October 23, with the rubble that had been the World Trade Center still smoldering, more than 200 residents of Turtle Bay came together in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to remember and honor those who had been taken from us so suddenly and so tragically on September 11. Organized by the Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and the Turtle Bay Association, the candlelight ceremony, entitled "A Light in the Night" offered us an opportunity to mourn, to pray, to sing, and to heal.

The ceremony opened with bagpiper Duncan Robertson, in full regalia, playing "Amazing Grace," followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, and then "God Bless America," beautifully sung by Jeanne Waller.

Father Robert Robbins, pastor of Holy Family Church, which faces the Plaza, then gave us Words of Gathering, reminding us that God was present at Ground Zero in the hearts of the firefighters and other rescue workers. Words of Comfort from Rabbi Allan Schranz of Sutton Place Synagogue reminded us that it is now time to "walk away from the tomb" and resume our normal lives. Interspersed with these messages were songs provided by the Turtle Bay Music School's tenor Nicholas Cotellessa ("At the River") with guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil joining him for John Lennon's "In My Life."

After we all sang "America the Beautiful," Police Captain Kevin Ward of the 17th Precinct spoke, comparing young people of today with World War II's "Greatest Generation." Rousing words followed from Councilman Gifford Miller, who championed the courage and caring acts of New Yorkers and the heroism exhibited by the firefighters, police and EMS.

Anne Saxon-Hersh, president of "Friends" and the evening's emcee, then read a passage from the Congressional Record entered by US Representative Carolyn Maloney in honor of "New York's Bravest and Finest from the Eighth Battalion, Engine Eight and Ladder Two…who were among those who responded …without hesitation, risking and in may tragic instances, sacrificing their own lives to save the lives of others…for selflessly continuing to protect New York and residents from danger in the wake of the worst attack against the United States in the nation's history."

As Anne read out each local missing firefighter's name, a candle bearing his photograph was lit by retired firefighter and filmmaker Mike Lennon. Then Anne was joined by TBA President Bill Curtis to present a plaque in memory of their courage and sacrifice. We all lit our candles as "Taps" was played on the trumpet by Larry Malin. Even in the midst of our honoring them, the firefighters received a call for assistance and departed immediately, just as they must have done when the call came on 9/11.

Novelist and neighbor Kurt Vonnegut, taking the stage after an introduction by Bill Curtis, provided Words of Community (see sidebar), the United Nations SRC singers presented a "Song of Peace", and a Candle of Thanksgiving was lighted by Robert Haberman, of the Family School, on behalf of all children.

Jay Litwin of the 17th Precinct Community Council introduced Words of Sharing, inviting individuals from the audience to speak. Among those who shared sentiments were Mary Bergan, president of Sutton Area Community (SAC); Phyllis Elstein who remembered "food chat" with our local firemen while grocery shopping, and Lubna Jaffe, speaking fondly of a neighbor from Cantor Fitzgerald, who frequently played with his son in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. Then we all joined in singing "Let There be Peace on Earth" and "This Land is Your Land."

The evening ended with conversation between neighbors, and coffee served by Café Blue. We left with a pervasive feeling of peace, harmony, and the strength to carry on with our lives.

Contributions may still be sent to either of the following:

Engine 8 Ladder 2 Association (firefighters)
165 East 51st St. NY, NY 10022

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (police)
Widows and Childrens Fund
40 Fulton St., 17th Fl.
NY, NY 10038


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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

224 East 47th Street, New York City 10017
(212) 751-5465
Fax (212) 751-4941


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