Seventeen Years Later

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Village of Mineola remembers the fallen on 9/11

Residents and village officials came together last Tuesday night at Memorial Park to remember the victims who were tragically killed on September 11, 2001.

The remembrance ceremony began with members of Girl Scout Troop 1447 leading attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance while the National Anthem was sung by Pastor Chester J. Easton from the First Presbyterian Church of Mineola.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Mayor Scott Strauss, who was a member of the elite Emergency Services Unit (ESU) within the New York City Police Department. Strauss, along with his squad, was dispatched to the World Trade Center on 9/11.

“There are many of us here tonight who were not yet born 17 years ago,” he said. “But for those of us who were, vividly, remember where we were and what we were doing when we first heard that our country had been attacked.”

Strauss recounted the spirit of Americans who banded together to help one another when the United States was savagely attacked that day.

“There is no end to the stories of heroism, the compassion, or the sacrifices of strangers helping strangers,” said Strauss. “It is estimated that more than 25,000 people were rescued from the towers, making this the largest rescue operation in the world.”

He also recounted the heroism that was seen that day by the first responders who raced to Ground Zero—not knowing if they’d ever return home.

“The firefighters, the police officers, and emergency medical personnel augmented the rescue operation that was already started by everyday citizens,” said Strauss, who was a part of the dangerous rescue operation of Port Authority officers Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin. “They climbed the stairs with their equipment—encouraging people to continue their dissent and not to stop for any reason.”

Strauss also commended residents of Mineola and the country for channeling their energies to positive forces by helping clothing drives, gathering shovels, buckets, and handtools, collecting gloves and masks, and items for search and rescue dogs.

“I will say from firsthand experience, all of your donations were received and were put to their intended use,” he said. “We greatly appreciated all of it as our boots, gloves and uniforms became damaged from the sharp edges of steel and the heat from the fires that were burning for months beneath us.”

Strauss said when they first started searching for survivors, there were few to be found. They searched for survivors 24/7 for months, hoping to bring a loved one home to their family.

“The images of what we did find will haunt us for the rest of our lives,” said Strauss. “All of this began to take its toll on many of us, but it was your strength and your support that kept us going and our will strong.”

Strauss recalls that there was a tremendous sense of patriotism right after the terror attacks with flags being raised at Ground Zero and throughout the country, saying that it was a time that everyone understood the meaning of the country’s flag.

“We were all united in our determination to get through those dark days and make us, as a community and a nation, stronger than we were, and it worked. As time continues to move on, the events of September 11th will go deeper into the history books, but we must never forget,” said Strauss.

At the remembrance ceremony, Father Malcolm Burns of Corpus Christi Church provided the invocation while Pastor Wilson Jose from Grace Assembly of God offered the closing prayer.

Commissioner Thomas Devaney and president Eileen Lepetit from the Mineola Volunteer Ambulance Corps. presented the memorial wreath, which honored the memory of those who died on 9/11 while Mineola Fire Department honorary chief Steve Stolarik played TAPS.

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