2007-09-07 / Front Page

Tribute Park Ceremonies Set For September 11

By Brian Magoolaghan

Two ceremonies are scheduled to take place at Tribute Park next Tuesday, as the Rockaway community and the nation observe the sixth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"It's going to be very simple: We're going to pay our respects to our heroes," said Bernie Warnock, the president of Friends of Tribute Park, the group which has organized the ceremonies.

The morning ceremony will begin at 8:46 a.m. - the moment the first airplane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center - as our nation's flag is raised high above the peninsula's beautiful bayfront memorial park and is then lowered to half-staff, according to the Friends of Tribute Park.

Uniformed members of the FDNY and NYPD will assist as Tribute Park's ceremonial flag, which has flown over the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., is unfurled at the base of the flagpole where the firefighter memorial rock bears the names of 347 city firefighters who died in the attack.

A list of Rockaway residents who gave their lives that day will be read, and family members and friends of the deceased will have the opportunity to lay a rose on the park's mariner's compass in their memory. Names of other victims whose families have relocated to the Rockaways since September 11, 2001 will also be read, organizers said.

The ceremonial stars and stripes will fly at half-staff until sunset, 7:12 p.m., when it will be lowered and replaced with the American flag that regularly waves over the park. City first responders will be on hand for this ceremony as well, according to organizers.

Warnock said many people have been invited to attend, but also noted that this ceremony isn't intended to compete with others that are scheduled, specifically the city's official ceremony, saying the Tribute Park ceremonies are for "the ones who can join us."

This year's ceremonies will mark the second time that Friends of Tribute Park has hosted September 11 remembrance ceremonies at the park, a vantage point from which many watched the devastation unfold in Lower Manhattan nearly six years ago. The triangular-shaped, undeveloped plot was reclaimed through the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce of the Rockaways and the Department of Parks and Recreation and opened to the public in November, 2005.

Last year's ceremony included the release of butterflies into the morning air. Organizers chose roses, which were donated by 1-800-Flowers, for Tuesday's ceremony.

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