Twenty-two years on from the devastating terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Brooklynites came together to mark the solemn anniversary and to honor the lives of those lost on the day and afterwards.
Nearly 3,000 people died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and many more have since died from respiratory illnesses and cancers caused by the toxic conditions at Ground Zero in the months and years following the attacks.
Earlier this year, an East Flatbush woman suffering from uterine cancer received a first-of-its-kind award from the 9/11 victim compensation fund — coming after years of advocacy that finally led to the disease being added to the list of recognized Sept. 11-related illnesses.
Local political leaders, community residents FDNY and NYPD gathered Sunday morning inside Canarsie Park to remember those who perished on the day and later passed.
The Newton Foundation, co-founded by retired NYPD chief Dr. Judith Newton, hosted the early morning vigil Sunday in partnership with Jefferson Lions club. Local legislators in attendance were state Senator Roxanne Persaud, Assembly Members Jaimie Williams and Monique Chandler-Waterman, councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse, and CB18 District Manager Sue Anne Partnow.
“Remembering 9/11 – my heart is heavy for the lives lost and their families, but always inspired by NYC’s resilience and unity. To those still battling its aftermath, our city stands with you. May we always foster unity and compassion,” councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse tweeted.
The FDNY lost 343 of the city’s bravest during the attacks. Tower Ladder 111/Engine Company 214 on Hancock Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant lost five firefighters that day, and came together Monday to remember their fallen colleagues in a solemn ceremony. Firefighter Robert Foti joined Engine Company 214 in 2019 in part because his father — also named Robert Foti – died in the attack, he told Brooklyn Paper in 2021.
As of 2023, 341 FDNY firefighters have died from illnesses related to working on and around Ground Zero in the weeks and months after the attack. On Monday, the department added 43 new names to its 9/11 memorial wall at FDNY headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn.
At Asser Levy Park, locals lit candles and laid down flowers at the Sept. 11 memorial plaque as the names of all 2,996 people who were killed in the tragedy. Coney Islanders lit candles adorned with the Star of David to remember the Jewish friends and neighbors they lost.
On Monday evening, Bay Ridge locals commemorated anniversary at a community vigil hosted by state Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Council Member Justin Brannan.
The annual memorial featured remarks from elected officials and prayers from members of the clergy.
Gounardes said it is a civic duty to honor the lives that were lost over 20 years ago.
“We have a proactive obligation to remember tragedies like Sept. 11 so that we never let it escape from our conscience,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “It’s a tribute to the past as well as a reminder for the future. We have to keep the memory of those we lost at the forefront of our mind.”
Students from Xaverian High School will performed a musical selection, and troops from a local Boy and Girl Scout chapter conducted the presentation of colors and pledge of allegiance.
Gounardes said the younger generation’s participation not only teaches them American history but also emphasizes an importance to honor the tragedy.
“They are participating in an event that commemorates something that happened before they were born,” he said. “We hope they understand the impact it had on our community. It makes them a part of something bigger than themselves.”
Brannan, who represents parts of Bay Ridge, said as more time passes, tributes to the historical day become more and more important.
“For most New Yorkers the vow to never forget is easy because we simply can’t forget. But how can you never forget if you weren’t even born yet? There is now an entire generation of adults who have no real memory of September 11th, 2001,” Brannan said in a statement. “So, keeping this tradition alive is even more important as time goes by. In their names, we must live.”