on the Green
Hundreds at historical site remember terrorist victims
at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, a sunny, clear Manhattan sky began to
blacken as ominous smoke transformed the day into the darkest in U.S.
history. A year later, under a sky spiced by fiery-orange twilight,
hundreds of people gathered on Schoolhouse Green in Oceanside to
memorialize the innocents murdered by Islamic terrorists that day and to
pay tribute to America.
They and the community's many civic,
religious and educational leaders did such with emotional speeches and
spirited songs through the half-hour memorial.
"The past year has been a year
of grief, and while the grief will never go away completely, the time
has come to turn our grief into action and to consider the memories that
we have of our loved ones," said Mark Greenspan, rabbi of Oceanside
Jewish Center and chaplain of Oceanside Fire Department (OFD), the first
speaker called to addressed the solemn crowd. "But at the same time
we must have the resolve to recognize that we live in a wonderful
country -- a blessing. A country that others may attack, but a country
that represents the best hope of the world."
Last Wednesday's memorial began
after many other ceremonies were held nationwide, most notably in New
York City, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where
collectively over 3,000 people were slaughtered last September.
Oceanside's memorial opened with the OFD Color Guard filing alongside
both sides of the podium while holding the Stars and Stripes. The crowd
that gathered on the lush grass of the Green, Oceanside's future
historical site on Foxhurst Rd. between Long Beach and Oceanside Roads,
followed Superintendent Dr. Herb Brown's lead in pledging allegiance to
Before asking for a moment of
silence, Anthony Iovino, an attorney for the School House Green project,
reminded fellow Oceansiders who they had come to remember and mourn.
"One year ago today, our
community lost loved ones to senseless violence," Iovino said in
his speech that was a centerpiece of the memorial. "These fine
innocent people were our parents, siblings, spouses, children, friends
and neighbors. They will be missed, but they will never be forgotten.
And neither will we forget the dedication of our many neighbors who
bravely joined in the rescue and recovery efforts that started on the
morning of September 11 and continued for days, weeks and months
thereafter. As I speak, men and women from this community are serving in
our security forces here at home and in our military forces overseas,
delivering justice to the murderers and driven to bring about peace for
a free nation."
As the mourners hung their heads in
silence, the only sounds came from the leaves of the Green's towering
maple rustled by the brisk winds of a distant hurricane fading away at
sea. Punctuating the memorial's solemn air, however, were patriotic and
cheerful songs performed by Oceanside's youthful musicians and singers.
Accompanied by the Oceanside High
School Marching Band, OHS junior Chelsea Euliano sang "God Bless
America," and accompanied by George Grossman, choral director at
OHS, on piano, she sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth." Wearing
T-shirts reading "United We Stand" above an image of Old
Glory, Boardman Elementary School Choir sang "The Heart of
America," an upbeat number that captured the benevolent,
"optimistic" American spirit that School House Green President
Betsy Transom mentioned in her speech.
Transom spoke of the Memorial
Waterfall and Garden recently created on the Green, which she said
exists to remind people to stand by those who lost family and friends
last September as fellow neighbors, Oceansiders and patriots. "We
cannot possibly assume to share their loss," she said, "but we
can most certainly share our lives. Everyday. With a smile, with a wave,
with a simple hello."
In time, the garden will be
permanently lit and bare a plaque dedicated to both those who were
murdered and those who attempted to rescue them on Sept. 11.
Bob Transom, president of the
Oceanside School Board, reflected on America through quotes from a book,
"We Are not Afraid," by Homer Hickham.
"You should make up your mind
right now to never listen to those who would run our nation down because
of their bitter perception of our past and who we are," he read.
"...We live among a compassionate and optimistic people striving to
do good. You are an American. There's nothing more you can say that
should make you any prouder."
Rev. Jim Burton of First
Presbyterians Church and Rev. Janet Porcher of First United Methodist
Church read from "A Litany of Thanksgiving and Hope."
"With working hands and
creative plans, we will rebuild our city, our economy, our community,
ourselves....With our hearts and our hands, we shall overcome,"
The memorial closed with a
benediction offered by Rabbi Uri Goren of Temple Avodah along with
members of the Oceanside Interfaith Council, which included the leaders
of several Oceanside congregations.
"It was a moving and fitting
tribute," said Mary Mugno, a music teacher at School 2. "It
was a touching moment of community and solidarity."
Sitting in the second row during the
memorial, Tracey Noon, an octogenarian life-long Oceansider, said,
"I thought the ceremony was very nice. I love anything like it
because it's the way I speak all of the time."