Smithtown Elected Leaders, Community Organizations, Families, First Responders, Military & Veterans Gather for the Annual September 11th Remembrance Ceremony
On Monday, September 11th, 2023, the Town of Smithtown, in conjunction with the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, hosted local friends and families of 9/11 victims, First Responders, U.S. Military and Veterans in an unforgettable prayer and reflection service. Rabbi Mendel Teldon of Chabad of Commack and Pastor Stephen Zarlengo of Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle Church led Elected Officials, First Responders, community leaders, veterans, active duty military members, local family and friends in the interfaith blessing.
“Today we stand united, to honor the memory of our loved ones, our brave first responders and our men and women in uniform who protect us against tyranny and terrorism. We pay respects to our friends and neighbors who still grieve for their loss. But we also reclaim the spirit of unity, faith and resilience that served as a light of hope through our darkest of hours, twenty two years ago today.” - Supervisor Ed Wehrheim
“We are not alone in this pain. And though we may ask why and though we may spiral into places where we can say I’m discouraged, I don’t know why this has happened. God is in the midst of our why. And he’ll hold us with his faithfulness in the midst of the storm. So as we remember, may we also remember the families who still mourn, the friends, the fresh pain they feel every day, may the grace of God be with them, now and forever more.” - Pastor Stephen Zarlengo of Smithtown Tabernacle Church
“Zakhor, remember that there will always be darkness that attempts to extinguish the light. That darkness plays itself out on the world stage in every generation… But more importantly Zakhor, remember the call to action. Zakhor, remember what love of our fellow man can accomplish. How it can take good people and turn them into selfless examples of all that is right with humanity. Zakhor, remember that in those darkest of times we saw the humanity in each other. Zakhor, remember that we saw that we are all Americans. Zakhor, remember we are all God's children.” - Rabbi Mendel Teldon of Chabad of Commack
After Rabbi Teldon and Pastor Zarlengo offered spiritual messages of unity and uplifting prayer, the names of 53 Smithtown residents who were killed 22 years ago during the September 11th, 2001 attacks were read out loud, followed by a moment of silence, and ceremonial wreath laying. The rain held off long enough for the end of the ceremony, in which Supervisor Wehrheim called upon all members of the military, veterans and 9/11 first responders to come forward as a crowd of grateful residents applauded them for their commitment, sacrifice and service. The ceremony closed with a rendition of Proud to be an American by John Zollo, as Smithtown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Barbara Franco handed out roses to be placed along the memorial fountain.
Each year, numerous organizations work in lockstep to present the September 11th ceremony as a symbol of unity. The Smithtown Chamber of Commerce partners with the Town of Smithtown, with support from the Chambers of Commerce of Nesconset and St. James. The Smithtown Department of Public Safety works together with the Smithtown Fire Department to present the colors and assist with the reading of the names. Rabbi Mendel Teldon of Chabad of Commack and Pastor Stephen Zarlengo of Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle bring together a message of hope to uplift the community. The U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Station works with various state and local elected leaders to assist with the wreath laying, to properly honor the fallen. The Department of Parks, Buildings and Grounds spends a rigorous amount of time maintaining and setting up the park for the ceremony every year. Smithtown GTV visual/audio specialists work through the evening hours to produce the ceremony to be made available that same day, so those who were unable to attend may still participate by watching online via YouTube channel. This tradition is by design and intended to honor the fallen, those who serve (past and present) and their loved ones in the community with grace, dignity and respect.
To view the full ceremony, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMeqqpzqeEw&t=280s