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Little Neck recalls attacks at community ceremonies

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Ground Zero was a place of mourning last week as the city gathered to mark the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but so were countless other spots in northeast Queens as hundreds of residents left their homes to pay tribute to the victims of the World Trade Center collapse.

Hours after the names of the 2,801 killed on Sept. 11 a year earlier were read as a tribute at memorials in Lower Manhattan last week and even as Mayor Michael Bloomberg presided over a citywide ceremony in the evening, smaller anniversary tributes were held in Douglaston and Bayside.

In Douglaston’s St. Anastasia Church, more than 300 people were attending a community concert to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary.

Several neighborhood houses of worship, including the Zion Episcopal Church and the Community Churches of Little Neck and Douglaston, joined with St. Anastasia’s and the Pride of Judea Community Services to organize the concert.

Featuring St. Anastasia cantor Brian Donohue and several other classical singers, the large audience was treated to a wide-ranging concert that included religious music and patriotic tunes such as “God Bless America,” and “The House I Live In.” The musicians included Donohue, his son Christopher, pianist Kenneth Blue, and singers Nancy Ferretti-Clark, Richard Clark, Brana Williams and Robert Williams.

The musicians said they were glad to provide an uplifting end to the day with an evening through song.

“You see all these people working at Ground Zero and we know we can’t do that,” Ferretti-Clark said. “This is what we do.”

Brian Donohue, who has been the cantor at St. Anastasia’s for several years, touched on the significance of a patriotic concert held on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.

“It’s very emotional and at the same time it’s a very happy feeling because I think it’s really important that we sing,” he said. “I think it’s vital that we sing.”

Monsignor Michael Cantley of St. Anastasia’s said the goal of the concert was not to hold a religious service but to host an event that would appeal to residents throughout Little Neck and Douglaston.

“It’s something that the rest of the community could become engaged in,” he said.

Representatives from the local churches made brief remarks throughout the program. Rev. Matthew Mardis, the new pastor of the Community Church of Little Neck, told a fable of a how a wise man once dealt with a question about the future.

“A great harm has been done to us — we’ve had a lot to grieve but we also have a choice about the future,” he said. “We can pledge to one another and to the Almighty that we can work together to build a more humane world.”

At nearby All Saints Church in Bayside congregants came to the 40th Avenue church to mark the significance of the day and remember the roughly 25 to 30 victims from the neighborhood.

Rev. Kent Johnson told those gathered in the small house of worship stories of how relatives of the World Trade Center victims have spent the past year coping with grief.

“Each of us had our hearts broken a year ago on this day in so many ways,” Johnson said. He urged the audience to remember that “as big and as broken and as horrible as what we experienced has been, God’s love is greater.”

In Bayside Hills, residents gathered to commemorate not only the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but the two residents of the neighborhood who died at the World Trade Center, civic leader Jerry Iannece said.

The ceremony dedicated a garden featuring two European Hornbeam trees on either side to represent the Twin Towers. The garden was donated by Keil Brothers florists in Bayside. Iannece said the trees are designed to grow tall and thin.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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