A hush fell over the auditorium at Rocky Point High School as members of the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 presented the nation’s colors, symbolizing the start of this year’s 9/11 remembrance ceremony.
As has become tradition at the school, the building’s 11th- and
12th-grade students marked this year’s anniversary with a solemn ceremony
featuring student performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the
Beautiful” and “Taps,” as well as several keynote speeches.
Throughout the program, speakers addressed how the events of 9/11 affected both the local and global community.
Program coordinator Richard Acritelli noted that the school district lost four alumni on 9/11, the highest number in the surrounding area, and Brooke Bonomi spoke about the four individually.
West Point graduate John Fernandez (Rocky Point Class of 1996) shared how he was severely wounded in Iraq in 2003 and described his current work with the Wounded Warriors Project. Dennis Fecci, who has worked for every New York City mayor from Lindsay to Bloomberg, discussed how his team was responsible for creating and organizing the communication center after the 9/11 attacks on New York City.
In addition to the speakers, Tommy Sullivan – Long Island Music Hall of Fame honoree, founding member of the original Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge and former member of the West Point band – performed emotional renditions of “God Bless the USA” and “Let It Be.” The video “Boatlift,” narrated by Tom Hanks, was also shown to explain the marine and river exodus of over 500,000 people on 9/11.
Thomas Strazzeri, president of the senior class and Varsity Club, gave an address towards the program’s conclusion.
“In times of national hardship, such as those faced after the attacks, heroism and courage are displayed,” he said. “Heroes, such as the individuals seated before us, put their lives on the line [and] in harm’s way to protect the people who were in danger…On behalf of my peers, I would like to thank you all for your service and the honor you have brought to our country.”