FORT HAMILTON, N.Y. – Fort Hamilton hosted a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the Community Club here, Sept. 10, to honor the victims and first responders of the terrorist attacks on America 20 years ago.
More than 100 service members, families, New York City officials, first responders, and veterans attended the ceremony dedicated to the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives that day in 2001. The event started with a collective moment of silence, the presentation of colors by the NYC multi-service Color Guard, the singing of the national anthem by NY Police Department officer James Volpe, and a rendition of “Amazing Grace” by the Fire Department of New York Emerald Society Pipes and Drums Bag Pipers.
Col. Craig Martin, Fort Hamilton Garrison Commander, addressed those in attendance.
“It seems that those wars that began after 9/11 have come to an end,” said Martin, “But what will not end is our service members’ dedicated service to our Nation, our Constitution, and a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. No terrorist can take that from us and your United States Military will not let them.”
The ceremony then paid tribute to seven heroes who were impacted by the attacks. They represent the FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority of New York ad New Jersey Police Department, the Pentagon, a flight attendant from United Airlines Flight 93, and a married couple from the Bay Ridge Community: FDNY Fire Marshal Ronald Bucca, NYPD Sgt. John Couglin, PAPD officer Clinton Davis, U.S. Army Col. Marilyn Wills, flight attendant CeeCee Ross Lyles, and Nurul Haque Miah and Shakila Yasmin.
FDNY firefighter Joseph Esposito from Rescue 5 in Staten Island was the event’s keynote speaker. Esposito is a 36-year veteran of the FDNY, and he lost two family members on that fateful day: his brother, firefighter Michael Esposito, who was also the Captain of Squad 1, and his cousin Frank Esposito, another firefighter from Engine 235. He also lost 11 of his fellow firefighters from Rescue 5 at the World Trade Center. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, Esposito played an active role in the Ground Zero rescue, spending 9 months working day and night in recovery and cleanup operation; if he wasn’t at the firehouse, he was at Ground Zero. Esposito also served as a shoulder to lean on for his FDNY family; he immediately stepped up and still remains the family liaison for many of the Rescue 5 families who lost someone on 9/11.
“When we got to the Trade Center, me and the members of Rescue 5 realized the devastation that we were about to encounter,” said Esposito. The world as we knew it was gone. Nothing was ever going to be the same…Tomorrow, 20 years is hard to imagine, but keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers of the families that passed before us.”
Following Esposito’s speech, Chief of Police Robert Baker and Fire Inspector Andrew Carman from Fort Hamilton’s Directorate of Emergency Services, recited the names of 67 fallen military members and veterans who were also first responders.
Along with Col. Martin and Fort Hamilton’s Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McCabe, Ms. Maria Anaya, a 9/11 victim’s family member, Ms. Emily Toro, Gold Star family member, and Mr. Edward Lloyd, a veteran, were given the honor of laying the wreath in the ceremony.
As a final remembrance, the Joint Task Force Empire Shield Honor Guard executed a 21-gun salute and retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Lopez played the notes of “Taps”, a bugle call, honorably ending the event.