The September 11th, 2023 Ceremony on Roosevelt Island floated on the shoulders of PSD Chief Kevin Brown and his friends. Common ground was created around shared memories of the World Trade Center disaster. Both Brown and his deputy Anthony Amoroso were at Ground Zero along with friends, some now passed from diseases associated with the smoke, dust and fumes.
by David Stone
Although he was not there, RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes had his name scrawled at the top of the event poster as if he mattered more than the event itself.
Brown, as he started the presentations, said that Haynes was “under the weather,”* not an uncommon excuse for many absences at board meetings and so forth, and asked him to say a few words. But the chief did much more than that.
Also missing were #2 in the pecking order Gretchen Robinson and, of course, President/AVP Akeem Jamal.
Although Brown’s authentic and emotional presence carried the day, a troubling lack of others, along with Haynes, was undeniable.
As one resident noted, there were no religious or faith leaders of any stripe. Not only were there no elected officials, but there was also not a single message from any of them. And not a word from RIOC board chair RuthAnne Visnauskas.
No relatives of people who perished and no community leaders.
That was just strange.
*Haynes also missed the ceremony honoring PSD members who perished while being on the job when the Pandemic broke, after delaying it for multiple reasons for a year and a half.
The September 11th, 2023 Ceremony
The ceremony started late and slowly with Brown reading a cliche-filled statement about about the most deadly terrorist attack in U.S. history. Yet, when he went off script and got personal, Brown gave the September 11th, 2023 ceremony a feeling that took many of us back 22 years.
Some of us felt we were there again, just as Brown and Amoroso were.
In heartfelt terms, Brown recalled friends like Jack McManus, the PSD chief who preceded him, who died from a September 11th-related cancer.
On a sweeter note, four young women from PS/IS 217 lead the gathering in a pledge of allegiance and later in a gentle rendition of the National Anthem.
A harpist played solo throughout, adding tone and texture to the ceremony.
With the harp backing him with music, Brown read off the names of those who lived and worked on Roosevelt Island and died at the scene on September 11th, 2001.
Before closing out, Brown invited his friend, Deputy Chief Anthony Amoroso, to the podium. His touching salute to friends and strangers lost that day was perfect.
Roughly 25 residents who were able to attend despite the difficult timing were invited to leave a single flower at the memorial plaque in the nearby garden. They were joined by RIOC personnel.