Fourteen years ago today at this time, New Yorkers and the world were reeling and in shock from the two airplanes that crashed into and ultimately leveled the World Trade Towers in a terrorist attack.
The attack killed just under 3,000 people including 343 heroic New York City firefighters and 72 equally heroic New York City police members, many of whom selflessly entered the burning buildings to fight the fire and save lives of civilians.
As a journalist/reporter covering the attack for Courier-Life Newspapers in Brooklyn, I will always remember with great sorrow interviewing ash-covered survivors crossing the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. I’ll also remember watching the towers collapse from the Montague Street promenade.
Finally, I’ll remember the many funerals I covered of the Brooklyn firefighters and cops who died in the attack. But mostly, I’ll remember how the tragedy of the attack brought both New Yorkers and this country together like never before.
The following are comments from some of Brooklyn’s elected officials in no particular order as a memorial on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Central Brooklyn State Sen. Jesse Hamilton: “Fourteen years ago today, we pulled together to confront a horrific attack. Co-worker helping co-worker, neighbor helping neighbor. Communities comforting families in agony. We remember the heroism and the humanity on display that day. We reject the bitterness, the cruelty, the hatred of humanity that fueled those attacks. We commit to continuing to be an extraordinary city, a beacon to the world. A city that demonstrates every day that people from all continents, all cultures, all ethnicities, and all religious traditions can prosper together, can live together, can strive together, can hope together. In peace.”
Southwest Brooklyn/Staten Island Congressman Dan Donovan: “Today, we bow our heads in solemn remembrance for the thousands lost 14
years ago. On this day, if not any other, we can join together as an undivided nation.
“In our reflection, we must also recognize that the pain and suffering caused by the attacks did not end in 2001. Even today, we have a moral obligation to fund the medical expenses of those volunteers and first responders who still face health challenges as a result of their heroism.”
Northern Brooklyn City Councilman Stephen Levin: “The anniversary
of the 9/11 attacks should remind all Americans of the continuing duty we owe to the first responders who put their lives on the line that day. While we take today to remember, these courageous individuals suffer the consequences of their exposure to toxic and harmful elements in the line of duty every day of their lives. I sincerely hope that Congress will act to fulfill our promise to those who stepped up when New York needed them most by reauthorizing the Zadroga Act. I thank Representatives Maloney, Nadler and King and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their leadership on this issue.”
Gravesend/Bath Beach/Bensonhurst Assemblyman Bill Colton: “Today as we memorialize the 14th Anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, there are valuable lessons to call to mind.
“First, we should not ever forget those victims and their families. A loved one went to work early in the morning, never dreaming what sacrifice would be demanded of them that day. Tragically some twenty-five hundred did not return to their loved ones that day. So many others did survive this senseless act of hate but their lives would be forever changed.
“Second, we must remember to appreciate all our law enforcement and our emergency responders on federal, state and local levels. These brave men and women routinely rush headlong into danger to protect our families and us. These heroes did their heroic acts that day and they continue to do it day after day, without even regarding themselves as the heroes that they are. Without them none of us can enjoy safety and security in the pursuits of our interests.
“Third, we must remember that the principles and values upon which America, the greatest country in the world, is built. Freedom, Democracy and the Pursuit of Happiness can never be achieved by hating others. Yet we must never allow another’s acts of hatred to destroy our moral values, which enable us to enjoy the promise which America offers.
“Fourth, we must remain strong as a nation and as a community. We must always speak up for what is right and against what is wrong and never compromise our principles and beliefs in the face of evil or terrorist threats. We must never be silent in the face of evil acts, whether such acts are directed against us or against others.
“And lastly we must always remember, appreciate and support the acts of our veterans who bravely fought in so many wars to keep freedom and democracy alive. We need to teach our children and our grandchildren the moral values and character that enabled our veterans in their willingness to sacrifice themselves to defend the freedom and the rights of all of us.
If we remember these lessons and not only practice them but also teach them to our children and grandchildren, the tragedy of September 11 will become a great memorial for the idea that evil can never destroy the American spirit and our willingness to protect freedom, democracy and the pursuit of happiness for all people.
Crown Heights/Lefferts Gardens Assemblywoman Diana Richardson: “On this day where we remember the tragic events of fourteen years ago, let us also remember the bravery and sacrifice of the great men and women who risked all for the sake of their fellow citizens in danger. In a moment of unspeakable horror, the actions of these heroes stood in contrast to the evil visited upon our city that day, and reminded us of what makes humanity great. We send our sincere sympathies to all who suffered losses, and stand proudly in a city that can never be broken.”
Flatlands City Councilman Jumaane Williams: “Like so many Americans, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at this very moment 14 years ago. I’ll never forget hearing the devastating news while helping campaign for a local election, and will forever be grateful that my family was safe. It goes without saying that so many didn’t have my same fortune, and that our country was changed forever. My prayers for peace and comfort go to all New Yorkers on this solemn day of remembrance, especially the families which carry the legacies of the loved ones they tragically lost.
“In the memory of our fallen brothers and sisters, let us renew the commitment to acknowledge the humanity in which we all meet and unite as one New York, one America and one world with compassion and love. There is still so much work to be done across the globe to address tragedies, terror and disregard of human life still occurring with stunning regularity. I am proud to see how far our city has come in rebuilding the site and its surrounding area. The accomplishments we’ve achieved thus far prove to be a sign of our city’s fortitude, strength and steadfast resilience, sending those who wish to do us harm at home and abroad a clear message: ‘New Yorkers will always stand proud and strong.'”
Midwood Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte: “This morning I joined some of my fellow New Yorkers to remember and pay tribute to the nearly 3000 people that we lost 14 years ago as well as their families, and loved ones. I am also reflecting on and remembering those brave souls that were our first responders — firefighters, police officers and medical personnel – who selflessly stepped up to help that day. That day was also a great testament to how so many of us came together to help and support each other. May we continue to hold all of them in our hearts.”
Public Advocate Letitia James: “Fourteen years ago, on September 11, 2001, our world as we knew it changed. We remember the loved ones we lost—friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandparents, husbands, and wives. And we recognize our heroes—the firefighters, police officers, first responders, and everyday people who ran into the face of fire with unrivaled bravery to save our fellow New Yorkers. Together, as a City, we are healing wounds that we never thought would heal. We are growing stronger and braver. We are moving forward and onward, but we will never forget.”