2002-09-21 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

By Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

A Time To Remember and Reflect...
Libby Pataki Joins Us To Honor
September 11 Heroes

With poems, prayers, biblical passages, homilies and music we paid tribute during last week to those who died in the terrorist attack and to those who heroically assisted their fellow man. There were many commemorative assemblies and prayer services allowing us to come together to share precious moments of peace and solace. People gathered in many different areas to reaffirm our individual and collective commitment to response and renewal. 

As we came together, we wanted to share our grief and the resentment and anger that lingers with us and take comfort from each other and strengthen our resolve to take all necessary steps to keep this from happening again. The one feature, which makes this event more horrific, is the fact that it was a deliberate man-made catastrophe.

The men and women of our uniformed services gave their lives to assist their fellow man. They ran into buildings that everyone else was running out of. On an every day basis they have been performing heroic acts. On September 11th they gave the ultimate sacrifice. We absolutely value that sacrifice.

In addition, we pray for the men and women who perished on that fateful day because they went to work. They were among the best, the brightest, the most persevering and the hardest working.

One group of heroes and heroines from September 11 is our teachers, paras, administrators and staff in our schools. Day in and day out, these professionals have been teaching our children the value of proper conduct and orderly dismissal procedures. No one ever thought about how important these procedures would be in a man-made disaster. Every child was evacuated safely from our schools on September 11, 2001. Where necessary, teachers waited with children in school into the night hours so that parents could come to get them. Teachers are a very strong and important lynchpin in the fabric of our society.

The first lady of New York State, Libby Pataki joined us in Queens to honor the memory of September 11th. Libby Pataki has published a book of "Letters to New York; Children Speak Out" which is dedicated to the victims of September 11, 2001.

Pataki came to PS 232 - the Walter Ward School on Friday, September 13th to share her book with the children. She was joined by Superintendent Matt Bromme, Principal Norann McGee, Assistant Principal Aileen Leibman, District Leader Frank Galluscio, President of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators Jill Levy, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Parents Association President Lisa Kolla and myself.

Pataki told us that her husband, Governor George Pataki, had received letters from children around they world concerning September 11th. Children were helping their parents to try to cope. Libby selected 100 letters from all those received to include in her book. One of the letters selected to be printed was written by Kimberly and her classmates in class 503. Kimberly read the letter to the school assembly. She wrote, "September 11th was a terrible day. A cowardly act was performed and thousands of people died." The class had joined together to have a bake sale and they raised $321 to help the victims of 9/11.

Pataki also visited St. Virgilius School. She was joined by the Diocesan Vicar for Education and Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese Monsignor Guy Puglisi, the pastor - Fr. Charles White, the principal - Mrs. Diane Pizzo, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, District Leader Frank Galluscio and myself. A prayer service was conducted. Three children from St. Virgilius School had their letters printed in Libby Pataki's Book. They are Marissa Mundy, Brianna Warner and Robert Wagner. Each youngster read his or her letter.

Marissa Mundy asked the Governor "Why do you think they bombed us?"  She had a wonderful recommendation that "if you re-build (the WTC) there should be the names of everyone who worked there on the side of the new building. She pointed out that her grandpa dropped off her father, her two uncle's and her dad's friends at the harbor to help.

Brianna Warner noted that she had been "watching the news constantly ever since the horrible event happened.  It is such a tragic thing." She told the Governor that from Broad Channel she could see the WTC tower. They were her favorite buildings because they lit up the whole night. She ended by saying that she is praying for everyone.

Robert Wagner read his letter, where he told the Governor that "kids all over Broad Channel have signs saying, "If you love New York, honk your horn and people are beeping like crazy." Marissa, Brianna and Robert eloquently expressed in their letters the sentiments of all good people around the world.

The children, parents, teachers, paras, administrators and staff at these schools are to be commended for their caring and concern. America is a stronger country because of youngsters like Kimberly and class 503, Marissa Mundy, Brianna Warner and Robert Wagner. Thank you to each of them who took time out to write, raise money and help their parents and community.

At this time, it is particularly important that we work for peace in the Middle East. It is imperative that we join together in a Rally for Peace in Israel to be held on Sunday, October 6th at 2 PM at the Knights of Columbus at 330 Beach 90 Street. At this time in our history we need to stand together. Please plan to join us.

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