By Tyler Marko:

“On that day 658 of my friends and coworkers were brutally murdered,” Ari Schonbrun said. “Four employees were on their way up to the upper floors, three of them were so severely burned that they spent months and months in the hospital undergoing surgeries and rehabilitations, and one of them walked out without a scratch, and you’re looking at that person.”

Schonbrun, the author of “Miracle & Fate on 78” spoke at the annual Village of Cedarhurst 9/11 memorial at Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park on Sept. 10. He recounted his story of how being late for work that day saved his life, how he helped his badly burned co-worker climb down 78 stories in the north tower of the World Trade Center, and how her refusal to let him go back in to help saved him from the building’s collapse.

The tragedy of the attacks helped Schonbrun reprioritize the balance of work and family in his life. “I did learn a lot that day, my family is the most important thing to me … It was always daddy’s gotta work, that was the refrain, until that day…” he said, “[Now] daddy’s wherever his children need him to be, because my friends that is what is really important in life.”

The message of reflection was present throughout the ceremony. Rabbi Shay Schachter of Young Israel of Woodmere recalled some tragedies of the past year. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, white nationalists gathering in Charlottesville and countless deaths in the Middle East among them. “We’re made to feel almost paralyzed,” he said, “life seems so fickle, we seem so vulnerable and life seems so unpredictable.”

Schachter also thanked the military for their service and stressed the importance of standing together against hatred, terror and bigotry.

Cedarhurst Mayor Benjamin Weinstock led the reading of the 9/11 granite markers which line the walkway to the park’s memorial fountain and describe that day’s events. Trustees Ron Lanzilotta, Ari Brown, Myrna Zisman and Israel Wasser recited the messages, each of which were punctuated with a single toll of a bell.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) spoke mournfully. “It’s always a very difficult time of year and a very difficult day because it brings back memories of the worst day,” he said. However he urged the crowd to also remember Sept. 12, as a day Americans came together. Recalling scenes of onlookers cheering for first responders he said, “I think we were never finer.”

A moment of silence and a rendition of “Taps” was preceded by Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department Chief David Campbell reading the names of seven local residents who were killed that day.

The Lawrence High School acapella ensemble opened the ceremony with their rendition of the national anthem, and helped close it with a performance of “God Bless America.”

Several military veterans also led the LCFD around the memorial fountain with the American and LCFD flags. An emergency call caused most members to leave the ceremony before it ended. Sirens sounded as fire trucks raced down Cedarhurst Avenue as Weinstock ended the ceremony. “As we all know saving a life trumps everything,” he said, after being interrupted by the roar of a fire engine.

By The Jewish Star:

Cedarhurst paused to remember the loss, the heroism, and the miracles of 9/11, at the village’s annual commemoration on Sunday.

In his invocation, Rabbi Shay Schachter (top right photo) of the Young Israel of Woodmere said, “we pray that G-d, the Master and Creator of the world, grant us all the strength and the fortitude to stand firm together against all forms of terror, of extremism, of bigotry, of hatred, of racism, and of all evil that can be found in different forms in our world.”

“We have a solemn obligation to those who died or were injured on Sept. 11th to never forget what happened,” said Mayor Benjamin Weinstock (bottom). “We saw evil, but we also saw the best of America.”

Ari Schonburn (middle), a 9/11 survivor and author of “Miracles and Fate on 78,” recalled his experiences that day. He was waiting to change elevators on the 78th floor when the first plane hit.

Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department Chief David Campbell, saluting during the playing of Taps, read the names of local 9/11 victims.

Hard to believe it is 16 years. Just under 3,000 people lost their lives that day. I personally lost 658 friends and co-workers on that day. Only through the Grace of God am I around today.

I spoke to a group of High School students this morning and the oldest one in the room was just a year old when 9/11 happened. Like the Korean war for me, to them, it is just another page in the history books.

They don’t realize that the entire world changed that day. For these kids, life today is normal. It is normal to have security guards in the schools. It is normal that I have to take off my shoes in order to board a plane. It is normal that I have to walk through a metal detector to board a plane or to go to a ballgame or walk into many public places. “If you see something, say something” is normal.

It is unfortunate that kids growing up today live in such a “normal” society. The United States is the greatest country on the face of the planet and yet this is our “normal”.

I pray that the words of the prophet Isaiah will soon ring true: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

May peace reign speedily in our days. Amen.

I’m pleased to announce that I have just finished the second printing of my book, Miracles and Fate on 78. It is available as a hardcover and also in eBook format through my new website. The hardcover design was done by James Iacobelli from Harper Collins. You’ll notice the detail of the light shining on the 78th floor in the silhouette of Tower One, which was a special touch. The jacket looks really fantastic.

Thanks so much to everyone for your encouragement over the years, I couldn’t have done this without your support!

Newsweek 911 Cover

 Except for the place where they died, Bill Feehan and Mohamed Atta would seem to have had absolutely nothing in common. Feehan rescued people; Atta killed them. As a lifelong firefighter who rose to become first deputy commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, Feehan was directly or indirectly responsible for saving thousands of lives. As a suicidal terrorist who flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, Atta murdered thousands, including Bill Feehan, who was helping a woman at the base of the North Tower when the building collapsed on him. Any suggestion of moral equivalence between the two men is repugnant. And yet, it must be said, both believed in the rightness of their causes with absolute certainty. It might be more comforting to think that Atta was stark raving mad, but true madmen, who are usually dysfunctional, don’t work with Atta’s calm purpose. No one wants to think that even a seminormal human being–indeed, nearly a score of them–could do what the terrorists did on September 11. In a world of moral relativism, we prefer psychological explanations; no one wishes to stare directly into the face of evil.

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