The Civic Scene: Community marches to remember Sept. 11

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When my wife, Edna, and daughter Jennifer learned that the Port Authority Police Department’s Pipe and Drum Band was going to march from the Queens/Nassau border 19 miles down Northern Boulevard to Ground Zero, they decided they had to go. So at 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2002, we drove to the starting location.

As 1 a.m. neared, the crowd grew larger until there were about 500 to 1,000 people lining Northern Boulevard. Some of the civilians wore NYPD, EMT or Fire Department shirts, and some had candles, American flags and signs.

I listened as the pipers warmed up with their mournful wail and then, with the pipers and drummers in the lead, a procession of police and fire vehicles set out on their journey. A large flat-bottomed truck containing photographers traveled in front of the procession.

About 100 people marched along behind the procession, many waving American flags.

We drove along side streets and caught up with the procession as it reached Marathon Parkway. There still were civilians walking behind. We could hear the drums and the bagpipes move westward along Northern Boulevard.

Many groups, some from distant places, have helped New York City in the past year. Last May my daughter asked my wife and me (we are both licensed teachers) to accompany her class to Manhattan and a showing of “Beauty and the Beast.” Princeton University had donated $1 million to four programs that it created to assist the individuals, especially young people, most directly affected by the terror attack and to help support New York City’s renewal and recovery.

The program was called “Arts Alive.” Attending this play was one of the live arts and cultural experiences provided by this gift. The arts part of the gift was worth $500,000. Princeton University sent representatives to meet the students at the theater and stay at the show. It was Ms. Harris’ sixth-grade class, 6-317 from PS 29 in College Point.

During the morning of Sept. 11 when all the schools in New York City were in a “lock-down,” no students were allowed to leave unless a parent came to pick them up. The students were confused as to what was happening, but they were able to look out the hall window and see the Twin Towers burning, which was very sobering. The students, most of whom had never attended a play on Broadway, and the parents who attended found it very enjoyable.

Princeton University also used its gift to provide scholarships at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which had lost more than 100 alumni and students in the NYPD and Fire Department. Week-long programs were provided on the Princeton campus last summer for children who lost parents. Money also was given to support faculty and staff to provide special expertise to New York’s renewal and to support undergraduate and graduate students’ dissertation research related to the attacks.

Good News of the Week

The celebration of the listing of the Long Island Motor Parkway (Vanderbilt Parkway) on the national and New York registers of historic places will take place Sunday, Oct. 6, at 10 a.m. in Cunningham Park at 199th Street between 73rd Avenue and Union Turnpike.

The parkway is a jogging/wa­lking/bicy­cle path and was the first limited access highway for the use of automobiles. It ran from Fresh Meadows to Lake Ronkonkoma in Suffolk County. Groups and corporations have been invited to display their antique automobiles and memorabilia from the period when the highway was in use. Officials have been invited.

The Friends of Cunningham Park has worked to obtain this historical listing. The president of the Friends of Cunningham Park is Marc Haken, with Martha Taylor, founding chair; Steven Kasavana and Sylvia Weprin, vice presidents; Diane Cohen, treasurer; and Martin Olish, secretary. I am president of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association, Inc. and on the board, as is Robert Miller, parkway historian; Jim Cafaro, parks manager, District 8; and Thomas Panzone, Partnership for Parks official. Assemblyman Mark Weprin is ex-officio.

Posted 7:23 pm, October 10, 2011
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