Army colonel says attacks are ‘forever ingrained in our memory’
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With the Tribute in Light in view across New York Harbor, hundreds of people gathered on the 69th Street pier in Bay Ridge for a ceremony to remember the victims of Sept. 11 and their loved ones on the 12th anniversary of the attacks that changed the city, and the nation, forever.
Some 500 participants held candles, waved American flags, sang patriotic songs, and prayed together in ceremony organized by state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn). Golden has been hosting a Sept. 11 tribute at the pier on every Sept. 11 anniversary since 2002. The city’s official tribute to the Brooklyn victims killed in the terror attacks, a 20-foot-high bronze statue called “The Beacon,” sits on the pier.
The pier, which provides a clear view of the Manhattan skyline, is also the spot where hundreds of Bay Ridge residents flocked to on Sept. 11, 2001 to watch in horror as the majestic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground.
“Each of us will remember where we were that day. That’s why we do this; so that we may never forget,” Golden said. “We continue a promise we made to each other on Sept. 11,” he said.
The stark passage of time between the terror attack and today was noted by Col. Eluyn Gines, commanding officer of the US Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton, the city’s only active military installation. Gines said that many of today’s military members were young children in elementary school at the time the tragedy took place.
Many of them grew up wanting to serve the country, he said. “Our military was reshaped by the attacks,” he said, adding that 1.3 million Americans have joined the various branches of the service over the past 12 years.
On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Slate reported that the military had successfully reinvented itself following the tragedy by changing its training techniques.
Still, Gines said, the attacks feel like they took place yesterday.
“The events of Sept. 11, 2001 will forever be ingrained in our memory. Today is the day to honor the remarkable lives we lost. Those attacks touched so many people on a personal level,” Gines said.
Bay Ridge lost 32 of its citizens on that day, the second highest total of any neighborhood in New York City, Golden said.
Fort Hamilton solders offered a 21-gun salute to the victims. Following that, Golden and Gines released two bunches of yellow balloons – one bundle containing nine and the other composed of 11 – into the air as a symbol of hope for the future.
Retired US Army sergeant Louis Licalzi led the singing of “God Bless The USA,” the country music song. Licalzi’s performance of the song has become a tradition at the Sept. 11 tribute at the pier.
The evening ended with a special “Concert for Hope,” featuring the Stephen Josephs Band starring Sgt. First Class George Masone.
The Brooklyn event capped off a day of tributes marking the 12th anniversary. The city’s official tribute took place Wednesday morning at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Plaza, where the World Trade Center once stood.
Families members of the victims read each victim’s name aloud. There was a moment of silence at four points marking the times the two hijacked jetliners crashed into the towers and when the towers fell.
The “Tribute in Light,” twin beams of light emanating toward the night sky from the footprints of the Twin Towers buildings, could be seen for miles around.