It was a solemn time to remember the borough’s Twin Towers victims, free of the controversy surrounding the redevelopment of Ground Zero.
In the annual 9-11 remembrance on the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse at 851 Grand Concourse, a ceremony on Wednesday, September 15 recalled the 9th anniversary of the attacks, with family members of five victims in attendance.
Judges, members of the FDNY and NYPD, performance artists, and court officers joined a large crowd gathered on the steps of the building for the midday service.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., whose office hosts the event every year, said the tradition of gathering to remember over 150 fallen Bronxites continues to draw people closer together. He urged those in attendance to remain as patriotic as they were when they displayed American flags in the days after September 11, 2001, and paid honor to heroic police officers, firefighters, and court officers.
“We should never forget the lives that were lost,” Diaz said. “We need to continue commemorating September 11th to remember the victims, to honor the many heroes that put their lives at risk to help others, and to let those who attacked us know that they did not break us — that our country is stronger than it was even before.”
Diaz said in his remarks that he felt “a tone of divisiveness” in the country leading up to the 9/11 anniversary, and that this unfortunately was a different tone than in the previous eight years.
He also said that a recent deployment to Afghanistan of more than a dozen service men and women from the borough continues to illustrate the sacrifices that Bronx residents make for the cause of freedom.
The New York State Courts Ceremonial Unit provided a color guard and the New York State Court Pipes and Drums performed a rendition of God Bless America. The National Anthem was sung by Sara Sanabria-Monserrat, and invocation and benediction was given by Reverend Idus Nunn Jr. of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.
There were also stirring performances of the songs “Halfway to Heaven” and “The Spirit of America,” which were written by Hank Fellows and choreographed by the Uptown Dance Academy. Vocalist Danice Siford sang the two songs, which include lyrics that say the victims of the attacks are now at home in heaven.
The program included the reading of the names of all borough victims. They were read by judges, police office. Theresa Noel, who lost her young son Curtis Terrance Noel at the World Trade Center, also read named.
“I come here every year, as opposed to the World Trade Center site,” Noel, who lives near Parkchester, said. “I don’t think I could go there because I still feel connected to the site, but I come here. They need to build a memorial garden at that site.”
For some, like Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, the ceremony was about the value of unity and togetherness after tragedy.
“We don’t just have to remember the lives we have lost, but we can commemorate all that we have learned,” Crespo said.