Williamsburg residents joined their city and country in commemorating the attacks of September 11, 2001, banding together for a candlelight vigil led by City Councilmember Diana Reyna.
Around 60 neighborhood residents convened at Most Holy Trinity Church (138 Montrose Avenue), proceedingfrom there to the Williamsburg Bridge. Once there, they met up with groups who had met at three other neighborhood churches: St. Peter and Paul Church (71 S. 3rd Street); Epiphany (96 S. 9th); and Transfiguration (250 Hooper Street).
“The tragic events of seven years ago today changed us all, and we will always grieve for those lost,” said Reyna to a somber crowd holding candles.
“But we will also remember the thousands more who survived, who were saved by the bravery and action of the men and women serving our community and protecting us.”
As they followed a police car escort and a van bumping Spanish spiritual music on the way to the bridge, Reyna and the crowd honored two of those fallen heroes.
They stopped by Engine Company 216 (187 Union Avenue) to pay respects to Firefighter Daniel Suhr, a member of the Williamsburg firehouse who died when someone jumped from the towers and fell on top of him.
The group moved down the block to the 90th Precinct station house (211 Union Avenue) to honor Sgt. Rodney Gillis, who was inside one the towers rescuing people when it collapsed.
“All we wish is that you never forget that day,” Detective Bruno Vidal, speaking on behalf of the precinct, told the mourners.
Antonia Ortiz, a resident of the nearby Lindsay Park houses, attends the vigil every year to emphasize the importance of remembering the tragedy. “It’s a very, very sad day. To me it’s sad that people don’t remember,” she said.
“[Attending the vigil] means being together, being one. To me, America is one. There are people from so many countries, but it should be one. We have to come together from something like this,” Ortiz continued.
Friar Santo Cricchio of Most Holy Trinity said that seven years later, “People are still asking ‘Why?’”
“I don’t know why, but I know we have to be part of the solution and not the problem. We can’t give into hate or into this us/them mentality with religion. All we can do is try to be reconcilers and try to identify the causes,” he said.
Many people in attendance had personal brushes with 9/11. Esteban Duran remembered Marlyn Garcia, a former co-worker at El Puente who died at the age of 21 while working for Marsh & McLennan Companies on the 100th floor of the World Trade Center.
“This vigil is a reminder that we owe it to Marlyn and the thousands of others to make our world a better place. We can start that by standing in unison with our fellow neighbors,” he said.