BNLers Gather to Commemorate Tenth Anniversary of 9/11

On September 9, 2011, a day that mimicked the beautiful blue skies of September 11, 2001, the Lab community gathered to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and unveil a 9/11 monument in the Berkner courtyard.

The memorial, designed by Ana Stojanovic Ranjbar of the Lab’s Modernization Office, consists of a piece of twisted steel from the World Trade Center (WTC) obtained by BNL Fire Chief Charles LaSalla from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The steel rests atop a cement pedestal simply marked 9-11-2001. The pedestal rests amid marble panels that represent the footprints of the WTC Towers. On the front of the monument is a plaque inscribed, “This piece of World Trade Center steel serves as a remembrance of all who lost their lives in the tragedy on September 11, 2001, and the brave men and women who participated in the rescue efforts. Dedicated on the tenth anniversary by Brookhaven National Laboratory. We will never forget.”

The event began with a procession led by four bagpipers and a drummer, including bagpipers Robert Kelly of Human Resources and BNL retiree John Keane. Members of the Fire Rescue Group (in full dress uniform), Police Group, Radiological Assistance Program (RAP), and the Brookhaven Veterans Association marched solemnly into the Berkner courtyard, halting in front of the monument.

Remembering 9/11

After members of the Laboratory Protection Division raised the American and U.S. Department of Energy flags high above the new monument, Deputy Director for Science and Technology Doon Gibbs gave opening remarks. “I am not a native New Yorker, but on September 11, 2001, I converted and have been a New Yorker ever since,” he said. Gibbs reminded the Lab community that during that difficult time for our nation, BNLers came together and donated record-breaking amounts of blood and gathered supplies for emergency responders. The Lab helped provide generator power during the search and rescue efforts and members of the Lab’s RAP team assisted New York City officials at the WTC site.

“What began as an ordinary day turned in to a life-changing event that would touch all of us in a really personal way,” said Gibbs.

Michael Holland, manager of Brookhaven’s Site Office for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said, “Much has changed since that day in 2001 when the World Trade Center Towers in New York, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93 succumbed to a terrorist attack. The DOE and national labs have focused research capabilities on science and technological applications to better protect and defend our country and citizens. Brookhaven National Laboratory is part of that effort, and just as the BNL community responded 10 years ago, BNL continues today to respond to the nation’s protection needs. Your dedication to this vital mission is recognized not only by DOE, but by the American people as well. This memorial here at Brookhaven will serve to always remind all of us that freedom is not free.”

Wearing his full dress Fire Department of New York (FDNY) uniform, Michael Pena, manager of the Laboratory Protection Division, gave the closing remarks. In 2001, Pena was a lieutenant in the FDNY. He has vivid memories of that tragic day and the search and rescue efforts that followed.

Remembering 9/11

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“Seeing the people of New York evacuate and smoke coming from the Trade Center gave us purpose as well as pause,” he said. “Ten years later we are incredibly grateful that there are people at Brookhaven Lab who continue to remember and pay tribute to the victims and the heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice. This dedication is a respectful remembrance of the tragic loss of innocent life. I thank the BNLers who came to assist us, and I ask that you continue to keep our brave military personnel in your prayers as they continue to serve our country and keep us safe.”

Pena added that this BNL memorial was made possible by of the harmonious work of many different departments at the Lab, including the Laboratory Protection Division, Facility and Operations Directorate, and Community, Education, Government, and Public Affairs, with the absolute support of Laboratory management.

“I thank everyone at BNL who participated in planning this ceremony to honor those who were lost on a day that changed our nation forever,” Pena said.

At the end of the ceremony, BNL Fire Chief Charles LaSalla read the inscription on the memorial plaque just before lone bugler Thomas Butterfield of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary played “Taps,” followed by a rendition of “Amazing Grace” by the bagpipers.

“Most people remember exactly where they were on September 11, 2001, when they heard the news that the WTC fell after a terrorist attack,” said LaSalla. “As a firefighter, that day shall forever remain sacred in my heart and the hearts of my fellow emergency responders. We will never forget.”

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