Bay Ridge

Hundreds gather on 69th St. pier to remember 9/11 victims

September 12, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Retired U.S. Army sergeant Louis Licalzi urges the crowd to raise their flags high as he sings “God Bless the USA.”

With prayers, poetry, song and a 21-gun salute, Bay Ridge paid tribute to the victims of Sept. 11 in a heartfelt ceremony held at the 69th Street pier Thursday night.

“We stand here with pain in our hearts, tears in our eyes and images burned into our memories,” state Sen. Marty Golden, who organized the remembrance, told a crowd of hundreds standing on the pier.

Three dozen Bay Ridge residents were among the thousands of people killed at the World Trade Center in the attack 13 years ago. Local residents lost “sons, daughters, friends and neighbors,” the senator said.

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“We join here tonight to never forget,” said Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn), who sponsors a ceremony at the pier every year on Sept. 11.

In the minds of many Bay Ridgeites, the pier is inevitably linked with Sept. 11. The dock, which juts out onto New York Harbor, offers an unencumbered view of the skyline of lower Manhattan. On Sept. 11, 2001, hundreds of people flocked to the pier to see at the horrific scene unfolding across the harbor.

On Thursday night, the people standing on the pier had a clear view of One World Trade Center, as well as the twin beams of light that appear on every anniversary to represent where the Twin Towers once stood.

Bill Guarinello, who spearheaded a drive to have a permanent monument built on the pier, served as the master of ceremonies at the remembrance. The monument, a 25-foot high replica of a 19th Century fireman’s bugle, was dedicated in 2006.

“Sept. 11 is not just a day to grieve. It is a day to remember how strong our nation is,” said the evening’s guest speaker Col. Joseph Davidson, commanding officer of the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton. Davidson lauded the work done by the first responders who dug through the rubble to search for survivors and took care of the families of the dead.

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But the day is also a reminder that “the price we pay for freedom is not free,” Davidson said.

Golden recalled how the Bay Ridge community reacted to the terror attack. Hundreds of people flocked to his district office for days on end looking to donate food and supplies to the first responders working at Ground Zero, he said. He led many convoys of supply trucks through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, he said.

Both Golden and Davidson spoke of the importance of having the nation be ever vigilant against the threat of terrorism.

Music performances also took place on Thursday night. Soprano Theresa Panicali sang “America the Beautiful,” “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and “God Bless America.” The Xaverian High School Band played several songs, and the school’s bagpipers performed “Amazing Grace.”

As he does every year, Louis Licalzi, a retired US army sergeant, sang “God Bless the USA.” His appearance has become part of the tradition of the ceremony.

Boy Scout leader Frank Maddalena read “We Shall Never Forget,” a poem written by Alan Jankowski.

Candles were distributed to visitors at the start of the ceremony, and as they were lit, a moment of silence was dedicated to the victims.

In his prayer, the Rev. Khader El-Yateem, pastor of Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, called Sept. 11 a dark day, but said “today, we gather to light a candle together.”

Joseph Loposky, music director of Xaverian High School, played “Taps” on a bugle.

In his prayer, the Rev. Khader El-Yateem, pastor of Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, called Sept. 11 a dark day, but said “today, we gather to light a candle together.”

Golden and Davidson released two bunches of balloons, one containing nine balloons, the other 11, into the air.

Fort Hamilton soldiers fired a 21-gun salute.

Joseph Loposky, music director of Xaverian High School, played “Taps” on a bugle.

***CORRECTIONS***

Original version of article incorrectly reported the name of the commander of the US Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton. He is Col. Joseph Davidson. We also incorrectly reported the name of the poet whose poem was read aloud. He is Alan Jankowski. We regret the errors.

 


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