Remembering 9/11 at Monroe Community College, Highland Park and the War Memorial

Remembering 9/11 at Monroe Community College, Highland Park and the War Memorial

[9/11/21 American flag at the Twentieth Annual Remembrance Ceremony at the Brighton campus of Monroe Community College. Photos by David Kramer, See An eerie quiet at Monroe Community College]

Since moving back to Rochester in 2004 from Rhode Island — where driving on 95N from Shannock to Providence, I listened on the radio to planes crashing into the Towers, imagining but not knowing if the cars around me were also listening in disbelief — we’ve covered several 9/11 remembrances and related events.

Yesterday, I attended the Twentieth Annual Remembrance Ceremony at Monroe Community College, ceremonies and the ribbon cutting at the War on Terror Memorial in Highland Park. The day before I went to the OPERATION WE REMEMBER event at the Blue Cross Arena.

Monroe Community College

The MCC Remembrance Ceremony was well attended and still powerful despite the passage of time. While the anniversary made the event special,  the moving ceremony felt much like the others I have observed. Many of the same people come every year to offer respects and to honor victims and survivors. The event will be much the same on the twenty first anniversary and those to follow.

8-46 new

8:45 a.m., September 11th, 2019. Every September 11th at 8:45 a.m., the sun’s rays align on two pieces of white concrete set in the ground behind the monument. From “Motivated by the Audacity” Remembering 9/11 at Monroe Community College

At 8:45 a.m., when the first Tower was struck, the sun will illuminate an image of the The World Trade Center carved in granite.

9/11/21 Monroe Community College (left) Guest Speaker, Mark Maddalina, Principal and Sustainability Design Director, SWBR; (right) members of the United States Navy See “Motivated by the Audacity” Remembering 9/11 at Monroe Community College

Laying of the Wreath, Daniel Moore, Senator, Student Government Association See “Motivated by the Audacity” Remembering 9/11 at Monroe Community College

The flower presentation. (left) Jessica Brown MCC ’03. Along with Daniel Chupe-O’Hanlon, Jessica was an MCC Alumni Speaker; (right) Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle

Sometimes the quieter moments can be the most poignant. I left the ceremony early to travel to the ribbon cutting in Highland Park. On the way, I could hear Jyair Crouch sing God Bless America and then the Keystone Pipes and Drums.  Alone for the moment as 8:45 a.m. approached, my memory returned to that drive in Rhode Island as the Towers were hit, also alone, wondering what it meant and what it would mean.

A few minutes before 8:45 a.m. White rose, American flag mask and Twentieth Annual Remembrance Ceremony Program, see “Motivated by the Audacity” Remembering 9/11 at Monroe Community College

Highland Park

The War on Terror Monument is located in the Gary Beikirch Memorial Park in Highland Park South, and the latest addition to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester.

9/12/21 View of the Memorial from the Garden of Reflection.

Including three from the Beirut bombing in 1983, the Memorial is inscribed with the names of 32 men and women of the armed forces of the United States who died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

9/12 The War on Terror Monument

The Timeline at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park once held a timepiece dedicated to the 1983 suicide attack in Beirut. From In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

On Memorial Day 2020, I attended the ground breaking ceremony, then followed the progress the Memorial throughout the summer of 2021.

Memorial Day, 2020. Monroe County Executive Adam Bello (speaking) and NYS Senator Joseph Robach break ground for the Highland Park South: War on Terror Memorial [Photos: David Kramer]. From On the day to remember its fallen, Brightonian Slagana Avramoska Mitris reflects on what Memorial Day means to her.

Former Monroe County Supervisor Cheryl Dinolfo and David Kramer. [left photo, David Kramer; center photo, Rita Hasenhauer, Gold  Star Family member] Right, Cheryl and David at the 20th anniversary ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester in Highland Park, September 2016 [Photo: Dinolfo staff member] From The Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester: A Meditation on the Cost of War

(top left) Memorial Day 2020 Conceptual rendering of the Highland Park South: War on Terror Memorial; (top right and bottom) The Memorial under construction during summer 2021. See On the day to remember its fallen, Brightonian Slagana Avramoska Mitris reflects on what Memorial Day means to her.

The 9/11 Ceremony and ribbon cutting

Director at Monroe County Veteran Services, Nicholas Stefanovic, one of many speakers, addressed the large crowd for the dedication of the Memorial. Nick served in United States Marine Corps on three separate deployments in Afghanistan. In his final tour, Nick served as a Platoon Sergeant responsible for managing the welfare and success of 40-45 Marines. Nicholas Stefanovic’s speech 9/11/21

Speaking of his experiences in Afghanistan, Nick invoked a question of the minds of many: We ask ourselves what we did it for, was it worth it? 

Nick answers:

One of the reasons I am thankful that I spent so much time in Afghanistan is because it allows me to stand here and confidently say it was worth it. Every one of those lives was worth it. An entire generation of children grew up free from oppression, and entire generation of young adults have been able to vote for their leaders, and an entire generation of women were freed from being slaves. One second of freedom is worth dying for because the moment we value it any less than that we have resigned ourselves to an eternity of oppression.

Nicholas Stefanovic, Director at Monroe County Veteran Services and Laura Stradley, Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director. See Nicholas Stefanovic’s speech 9/11/21

In his testament, Nick emphasizes the opportunities and freedoms given Afghan women:

Evil looks like enslaving women who are beaten if they so much as appear in the street without a man because they are seen as being temptations . . . evil is executing a pregnant woman because she was an Afghan police officer, and evil is literally taking real whips to the brave women protesting Taliban rule in the streets in Kabul.

Powerful words indeed.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello with David Kramer [Photo: Tanner Jubenville, Monroe County  Communications and Special Events] See Why I voted for Adam Bello and a trip down Talker political memory lane, 2015 – 2021

(left) View of the ceremonies from the War on Terror Memorial; (right) mounted officers from the Sheriff’s Department

(left) 9/9/21 Completing the Memorial; (right) 9/11/21 The Memorial before the ribbon cutting ceremony

(left) ribbon, scissors and white rose from the MCC event; (right) Raising the colors prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony

The ribbon cutting

The Blue Cross Memorial at the War Memorial 9/10/21

On Friday, I watched, along with perhaps a thousand others, the OPERATION WE REMEMBER ceremonies. There I met Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director Laura Stradley. I saw Laura again later that day at the VOC’s Armed with Creativity Art Show (see POSTSCRIPT) and then again at the dedication event on Saturday.

OPERATION WE REMEMBER sponsored by the Veterans Outreach Center

9/10/21 The Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial

(left) the Lacrosse statue; (right) the War Memorial

POSTSCRIPT 

Later in the day, I visited the the Brighton Veterans Memorial where shrines are placed in recognition of American soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan.

In a facebook posting, Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle described the vigil:

I was humbled to welcome a large group of veterans and family members to a vigil held at the Brighton Veterans Memorial, honoring the thirteen Americans killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul last week. They gave their lives working to get Americans and Afghans who served with our forces, out of the country. God bless these heroes and bring comfort to their families as well as to the families of all our troops serving overseas.

The VOC’s Armed with Creativity Art Show on Friday 

9/10/21 Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director Laura Stradley at the VOC’s Armed with Creativity Art Show. John Arthurs, Untitled, Acrylic and Resin

The Vietnam Veterans Office on South Avenue

In August, the VOC dedication a monument to its’ Founders. As explained by Laura:

Founder’s Day and the monument recognizes the men who started the Center in 1973 at a time when appreciating people who served in war was not popular, About 150 attended the event, including four of the original founders. One man was unable to attend and one is deceased.

Inscribed with the names of Gary Beikirch, Tom Cray, Tom Leckinger, Bill Reddy, Bill Reddy, Cliff Scutella, Steven

On my September visit, I met VOC staff member Michael Horn. A veteran, Michael recently moved back to Rochester from Elmira where he was the musical director of his church. The VOC arranged for Michael to work in the Center’s Stars and Stripes Flag Store that he calls a community of beautiful people.

Michael worked on Founders Day, describing the event as like a college alumni reunion with veterans and friends of many generations mingling and celebrating.

September, 2021. VOC staff member Michael Horn at the American and POW-MIA flags

At Founder’s Day was Barry Culhane, creator of the Timeline at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester and a very close friend of VOC Founder and Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch.

(left) Barry Culhane, who led the effort to create the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park, calls the memorial “the hardest thing I have done and one of the most rewarding.” Officials will proclaim Friday “Barry Culhane Day” and events will mark the 10-year anniversary of the memorial’s dedication. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 9/07/06; (right) Nearly 63% of the Medal of Honor recipients during the Vietnam War were awarded posthumously, including Rochester’s own William Perkins, killed in action on October 12, 1967. Rochester’s other Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch delivered the invocation of thousands of people at the dedication of our Memorial. See In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

The Timeline at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park once held a timepiece dedicated to 9/11.

UPDATE: This morning (9/13), Bob Lonsberry discussed the ceremony. After the ceremony ended, Bob came across Barry contemplating the Monument next to Timeline. In his on-air comments, Bob called Barry the “Father of the Vietnam War Memorial.” Bob also saw what I and others certainly have: the Monument looks very much like Stonehenge.

“Forty years ago, Barry Culhane was Steve Schultz’s counselor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. They’ve been friends ever since, as Steve founded and was chief technology officer at Pictometry, and now serves as Henrietta town supervisor.” (right) “An historic meeting. Hector Sotomayor is the father of the War On Terror Memorial, and Barry Culhane is the father of the Vietnam War Memorial. In uniform and civilian life, these men have lives of constant service.”  Bob Lonsberry’s facebook page  See In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

Highland Park

Sometimes the quieter moments can be the most poignant. During the ceremony, I wandered down to a bench a  between The Guardian and the Crime Victims Memorial in the lower green area of the park. On my hand held SONY radio, I listened to WHAM’s special program on 9/11. I heard the tale of several NYRFD who miraculously survived while having to leave their captain dead in the rubble. One woman attended a memorial service in Shankesville, PA for her brother who was killed on Flight 93. At the service, the woman felt the presence of her brother when, just as was asking him to send a message, she came across a perfectly preserved squirrel’s nest.

Bench in Highland Park. SONY radio and white rose and American flag mask from the MCC event. See Lilac Festivals past

PLEASE LEAVE COMMENTS IN THE COMMENT SECTION AT END

SEE

“Motivated by the Audacity:” Remembering 9/11 at Monroe Community College

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY and Lake Affect Magazine.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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