Community, Lead Stories, Politics

County honors 9/11 with virtual ceremony

In a solemn ceremony like never before at Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla, Westchester County paid tribute to those lost during tragic events of Sept. 11,
2001 and heroes who gave their life helping us all move forward in its aftermath.  Standing before “The Rising,” the county’s beautiful 9/11 Memorial, County Executive George Latimer honored the Westchester residents who passed on that devastating day 19 years ago, as well as those who have died from 9/11-related
illness since the attacks.

“While we face societal challenges like never before in our current day, we must never forget the events that unfolded in front of the world’s eyes that morning nineteen years ago,” Latimer said.  “That day changed all of us, and we will always continue to grieve.  From the souls lost, to the heroes who selflessly rushed
in that we are still losing to this day, we must—and we will—always honor them here in Westchester County.”

Tony Aiello, CBS 2 New York reporter, emceed the event.  “I moved to Westchester in 1999 and remember well the tragic impact the terror attack had on the County,” he said. “I was honored to emcee the County’s very first 9/11 commemoration in 2002.”

Following pandemic protocols, Rev. Troy DeCohen, senior pastor at Mount Vernon Heights Congregational Church, led the ceremony with a pre-recorded
prayer: “We as Americans and citizens of good conscience of this great land humble ourselves in prayer reflecting on the thousands of lives lost and the thousands of families that still grieve their loss.”

The ceremony also included the presentation of colors, led by the Westchester County Police Department’s Ceremonial Unit Color Guard, followed by Pipes and Drums of the Police Emerald Society of Westchester County. U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey led the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” by Lindsay Towers from Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, and Concordia College’s Brass Ensemble played—adding music to the solemn backdrop of the memorial.

“Unfortunately, this year, we can’t physically provide a shoulder to lean on to the families and friends of those we lost 19 years ago, said Benjamin Boykin, chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators.  “We can’t wrap our arms around the loved ones of the first responders or those who worked
the pile in the days and months afterward. But we will never forget their sacrifice.  Let’s honor them by committing ourselves anew to the spirit of unity and
shared purpose their loss inspired in us all.”

A commemorative wreath was laid on the “Beam of Remembrance” by Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, a steel beam that was pulled from the ashes of
the World Trade Center, and dedicated to the county as a lasting reminder of our nation’s sacrifice and strength on that fateful day.

Adding to the interfaith prayer at the ceremony, Imam Qari Amjad Karim of the Westchester Muslim Center said, “As our country remembers the heartbreaking events of September 11, 2001—we turn to prayer at a time when our nation is facing unprecedented challenges—now more than ever we need mercy and strength to guide us on the right path.”

The names of those who were lost, as displayed on the “Circle of Remembrance,” were read allowed by District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, County Clerk
Tim Idoni and members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. (Submitted)