Volume 18 • Issue 17 | September 16 - 22, 2005

Downtown Express photos by Jennifer Bodrow

9/11 ceremonies begin with the sunrise

By Caitlin Eichelberger

To mark the fourth anniversary of 9/11, about 75 Battery Park City residents and fellow Lower Manhattan community members gathered for a sunrise ceremony in Battery Park city with hosts borough President C. Virginia Fields and Councilmember Alan Gerson.

The 58-degree sunrise at Wagener Park sent a chill through attendants as religious leaders offered thoughts and prayers in remembrance of 9/11 and also in observance of the current situation in the Gulf Coast.

“We gather with our values and our minds and our spirits firmly planted in N.Y.C., Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11,” said Rev. William Grant of the Tribeca Spiritual Center. “Firmly planted in our experience of that day, but our hearts are with another city.”

Fields echoed Grant’s sentiment.

“Those events that are in our mind today, one man made, one natural, are equally etched on our hearts and our minds,” Fields said.
The sunrise ceremony began three years ago to involve people locally in the community.

“We too heard your concerns about so many of the events that take place throughout the day, many local residents were not included, and we know what you experienced, we know what you did in reaching out, getting involved, providing support, and also what you went through personally yourself,” said Fields.

Lillie Ng, who grew up in Chinatown and who once worked at the World Trade Center, has attended each of the sunrise ceremonies and said it was a little different this year. “There’s a lot more focus on other things that are happening, especially with Hurricane Katrina,” she said. “For me personally, I feel like after doing this for four years or, I think it’s time to spend more time with my family, with my friends. I’m really glad they came this morning with me,” Ng said while turning to friends for hugs.

Sunday was the first sunrise ceremony Diane Wondisford attended.

“I thought it was beautiful,” she said. “I was particularly glad to hear all the various music and the many religious sects represented, which I think is very important. It’s very striking to hear the remarks from the Imam from the fire department in the midst of all the rest of this.”

The coinciding of the anniversary and the Hurricane Katrina’s wake “calls to mind that we as a community have a responsibility to protect and help each other,” Wondisford said.

Gerson expressed a similar idea.

“We pledge ourselves, as we already have, to do everything we can as individuals and as a community to support those in need as victims of Katrina and the floods not only to return what we received but to reflect our fundamental humanity,” Gerson said.


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