9/11 memorial: White Plains recalls a sunny day of darkness

Members of the White Plains Common Council place

Members of the White Plains Common Council place a wreath on the 9/11 memorial at Liberty Park in White Plains during A Community Gathering of Remembrance and Hope. The memorial at the park bears the name of the six local residents who perished that day. (Sept. 11, 2012) (Credit: Xavier Mascarenas)

On a cloudless, sun-dappled day in Liberty Park -- not unlike the calamitous day 11 years ago -- White Plains officials and residents paid tribute to six city residents and all the others lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Mayor Thomas Roach called Sept. 11 a defining moment, like the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

"It was a day just like today, clear blue skies," he said, standing before about two dozen people.


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Public Safety Commissioner David Chong was a New York City police lieutenant on Sept. 11, 2001. He was pulled out of the rubble as he assisted people in the south tower. He escaped with his life but lost many fellow officers.

"The pain never lessens," he said. "It was the same kind of day. Not a cloud in the sky. The horrors of that day come back every Sept. 11. We owe it to everyone who died to pay homage."

After the ceremony, Chong said he'll go to a quiet place "and reflect on all the friends I lost today."

Resident Charlotte Szabo says she attends Sept. 11 services every year in White Plains.

"I can't think of a place I'd rather be. I just want to pay respects to the 3,000 who died, the first responders and the military. And I'm glad I'm an American."

During the 15-minute ceremony, a red and white flowered wreath was placed on the granite monument inscribed with the names of the six White Plains residents who died.

Rabbi Lester Bronstein blew the ram's horn, traditionally sounded during the Jewish High Holidays, "to release the pain" and encourage all to do good works.

The six victims from White Plains were: Hemanth Putter; Gregory Rodriguez, 32; Sharon Balcom, 43, who worked as computer systems manager at Marsh & McLennan; Marisa Dinardo, 39, a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald who was reared in West Harrison; Joe Riverso, 39, a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald who coached his 7-year-old daughter's Little League team; and Linda Sheehan, 41, vice president at Sandler O'Neil.

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