Jacobi Medical Center paid tribute to fallen community members at its annual 9/11 memorial event at The Memorial Garden.
On Saturday, September 11, members of the hospital, the Pelham Parkway community, and beyond came to pay tribute and lay flowers on two stones carved with the names of the 156 Bronxites who perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
More than 100 attendees listened to inspiring poems and songs as they remembered their friends and neighbors.
The joint community advisory boards of Jacobi Medical Center and North Central Bronx Hospital sponsored the program, which brought doctors, community members, and elected officials out to remember, through song, poetry, and speeches, the attacks and victims. The mistress of ceremonies was Sylvia Lask, chairperson of Jacobi Medical Center’s Community Advisory Board.
“This is the best 9/11 event held in the Bronx, in terms of bringing together a cross section of the communities that make up our great borough,” said attendee Bob Nolan, who served for decades as an aide in the borough president’s office. “I always look upon this remembrance as a chance for elected officials and others in public life to rededicate themselves to public service. It is, of course, also a great way to come together to remember the people that we have lost.”
Again and again, locals expressed gratitude to former senator Guy Velella, who helped secure funding to build the elegant stone memorial, including benches and engravings of the borough’s 156 names. The ceremony also included a bagpipe performance by Brendan Byrne, the National Anthem sung by Jacobi senior management consultant Cirino Lotta, “God Bless America” and “Amazing Grace” sung by CAB member Shirley Hayes, and closing remarks by Christopher Fugazy, Jacobi’s chief operating officer.
Placing of the flowers was begun by senior vice president for the North Bronx Healthcare Network William Walsh, Christopher Fugazy, and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, and Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns.
Rivera said that after the first seven years of anniversaries of 9/11, she was finally starting to feel better about the tragedy because despite the tremendous loss, the American spirit had grown stronger.
“This morning I woke up and there was a sense of glory, because nine years ago, some cowards who tried to destroy the American spirit did not succeed,” Rivera said. “Our strength was tested, but we have grown stronger.”
Others attendees spoke about supporting neighbors and friends who lost loved ones in the tragedy, and said that events like the one at Jacobi were part of the healing process.
“What is important is that people remember the families and support them,” said Community Board 11 member Joe McManus. “We are sharing in their pain.”
Klein likened the importance of the service to an adage used by Jews after the Holocaust: “Always remember; never forget.”