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Sept. 11 victims honored in St. Albans Pk. tribute

Although the fierce winds of Sept. 11 made a candlelight vigil impossible, southeast Queens leaders and residents still gathered in St. Albans Park last week to commemorate the attacks on the World Trade Center and to remember those who lost their lives.

With the American flag flapping in the breeze above, more than 50 people assembled on the anniversary to read a list of the Queens residents who died at Ground Zero.

“It is important and fitting that we do this right here in our own community,” said state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans), one of the sponsors. “We lost people in Queens. We have heroes in our own community who need to be commemorated.”

Borough President Helen Marshall agreed and skipped a citywide event at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan to attend the ceremony.

“My first place is here in Queens,” she said.

A candlelight vigil was also planned, but the gusts of wind were so strong that candles could not be lighted.

“Those we lost are surrounding us with their wind,” Marshall said.

Officers from the 113th Precinct in South Jamaica joined the politicians and residents for the ceremony. For those at the event, the officers represented all the emergency rescue workers who suffered through that day and the year after it, said state Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village).

“Just three hours after the attacks, if something had happened to us, we would have been looking to the police to help us, and they would have helped us,” Clark said.

Deputy Inspector John Essig, commanding officer of the 113th Precinct, thanked the crowd for their outpouring of support after the attacks.

“The true feelings of the community really came out,” he said. “We would not have gotten through that time if it was not for that support.”

In between reading just some of the names of the victims from the borough, other speakers looked for meaning from the worst terrorist attack in the nation’s history.

“When people came out of the towers. they were covered in white ash,” said state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans). “Beyond saying that’s a man or a woman, you couldn’t tell if they were white, black, brown, or anything. Maybe it was a message from God telling us that everybody is the same.”

For some, it was a time to reflect on how close southeast Queens and Lower Manhattan truly are.

“The E train starts at Archer and Parsons, but it ends at the World Trade Center,” said former City Councilman Archie Spigner. “We all know thousands of people who ride that train all the way to the end every day.”

And while most people are still trying to come to terms with the events of last year, the city and the borough will overcome, said City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who co-sponsored the event with Scarborough.

“It affected all of us in ways we haven’t even realized yet,” Comrie said. “We have an indomitable spirit as a people.”

State Sen. Ada Smith (D-Jamaica) looked to the future as she read the names of some of the victims.

“We will all continue to battle our demons,” she said. “We must continue to persevere and we must continue to be good to each other.”

Rev. Henry Simmons, president of the Southeast Queens Clergy agreed, saying that the events of Sept. 11 should serve as a lesson in tolerance.

“Sept. 11, 2001 was not in fact the last day for us, and because it was not the last day, we have hope,” he said. “Our hope is not to return to what was but to strive for what should be.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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