“It’s been 11 years, time goes by quickly, there have been many events in all of our lives,” Nassau , R-New Hyde Park, said, “so it’s right and proper for us to gather and remember those who have suffered so much and that day showed so much of the worst of human behavior: fanatics, killing innocent people to make a statement. But at the same time we had the best of human behavior: we remember also the rescuers, the hundreds of rescuers running into those buildings and the thousands of people trying to get out.”
The featured speaker at the Village of Mineola’s Sept. 11 memorial Tuesday night at , Nicolello addressed a far more intimate gathering of residents than had been present of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, DC and in Shanksville, PA.
“I want to congratulate and commend the Village of Mineola for having this ceremony,” Nicolello said, “for keeping this memory alive some 11 years after the event. We’re represented well here; our veterans, our scouts, our fire department, our emergency services department.”
Related: Long Island Remembers 9/11
Also among the guests present but who did not address the residents gathered were state , New York State Deputy Homeland Security Chief for New York State James Sherry and members of the . Boy Scouts from Troop 45 were also present as were the members of the , junior fire department and ladies auxiliary. Former village trustee and state veterans hall of fame member John DaVanzo led the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of the ceremony while student Rebecca Bastos sang the national anthem.
Nicolello had quoted part of a November 2011 address by former President George W. Bush about keeping the memory of the day alive, remarking that “today is strikingly similar to 11 years ago. Anyone who was alive at the time will remember it was a beautiful day, an endless blue sky. And ever since, any time of day like this after a long summer just brings back so many memories of that terrible day. So these thoughts are with us and these memories are with us today and there are so many families who are still suffering who’ve lost loved ones.”
In his invocation, Rev. Wilson Jose, pastor of the , prayed that “as we are here to remember the terrible tragedy that struck us as a nation 11 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001, we beseech you as the God of infinite love and mercy, to comfort those that are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Help us to become a people who will bring hope to those who are in hopelessness.”
Speaking about the civilians who ran to help, rescuers, military personnel deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, Nicolello said that “heroism is something that’s difficult to define and of course, we recognize all those who I’ve mentioned as heroes. But I’ve noticed something over the years: that those who have those tendencies, those who have acted in a heroic manner, are so understated about it, it’s incredible.”
He singled out Manny Grilo, former commander for the Mineola VFW and a Vietnam veteran who went undercover in Laos and Cambodia, and Mineola , who helped to rescue Port Authority police officers.
“So we remember the families, we remember the responders, we remember the heroes, but we also remember that there was a call to unity afterwards, a call to patriotism. If we could continue to retain that, that there really was nothing that we couldn’t do.”
Strauss, who led the event, was visibly affected by the ceremony, his voice wavering as the memorial transpired, calling Nicolello “a true friend of mine as well as the Village of Mineola. He has a special place in his heart for those who would place themselves in harm’s way as they strive to protect us.”
Members of the American Legion led by presented a memorial wreath while honorary chief Steven Stolarik Sr. played taps nearby.
“We ask that children that have grown up would learn the lessons of this day, not of despair but of hope,” Rev. Chester Easton of the said in offering a convocation, “that we would learn once again what it means to be a nation under your sovereign Lordship, in ways that we have, many times, forgotten.”