One by one, members of the community recalled their memories and feelings regarding September 11th.
“I’m not even going to tell you where the parents said I could go,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall of trying to coordinate the evacuation of schools. “They wanted their children and they wanted them immediately.”
Marshall was the first to sound the theme of the night.
“I’m glad we’re not forgetting,” she said. “We should never forget and we must always be vigilant.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich said that the men and women who fight to this day to protect the country are who people should look up to.
“People like them give people like me the opportunity to run for office,” he said.
District leader Lew Simon likened the attacks on 9/11 to another historic tragedy. “With the holocaust we say never again,” he said. “Well, never again! We must be alert, but not have fear.”
Mike Miller, the newly elected assemblyman for the 38th District, remembers the sadness, but he also remembers something comforting out of England.
“When they were doing the changing of the guard in Buckingham Palace they played the national anthem,” he said. “That’s when I knew we had friends.”
Frank Gulluscio, a local resident and district manager of Community Board 6, remembered passing schools and seeing parents and children in a panic, but he knew and admired a familiar resolve that permeated the area.
“We are survivors, we are New York City, and we are America,” he said.
State Senator Joe Addabbo believes that people should think about 9/11 and what it means everyday if they can.
“It’s a common thread that we all have. They say time can heal all wounds,” he said as the crowd nodded in understanding. “Well, not this one.”
Iraq War veteran Sean McCabe also spoke. He went to Baghdad against his family’s wishes in 2006.
“I was really happy to kick the crap out of Al Qaeda he said to whoops and hollers from the crowd. Then he turned serious. “Everyday you should try to do something nice. Say thank you to a vet if you see one.”
Local residents also chimed in. Vance Barber, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, remembered the surreal nature of the day.
“I remember seeing soldiers with M-16’s. I remember the steel spires sticking out of the ground,” he said. “It was the most incredible devastation you could ever see.”
Maria Thomson, executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, was somber as she reminisced.
“The people in those buildings were not fighting,” she said. “Those beautiful towers – you can never look at the skyline again without remembering what they did to us.”