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America

With Washington leading the way, we have become a divided nation, bickering, fighting, shouting and disagreeing as if we’re at a competing pep rally.

What are we to do?

Perhaps we need metaphors to turn the thermostat down.

To start with the obvious, perhaps we are a nation of onions. No, we don’t give everyone bad breath and, no, we don’t cause gas. We have layers, as Shrek so famously described in his eponymous movie. The surface, which everyone sees, has a layer of anger and frustration, but peel back a few of those layers and we’re filled with sympathy, empathy and concern for our friends and neighbors who, like us, are pursuing the American Dream.

Sticking with the food metaphor, perhaps we’re a kitchen stocked with incredible ingredients trucked in from all over the country. You may never have been to Idaho, but I can assure you that the simple potato in that state is remarkable for its flavor and texture.

While we have all these wonderful ingredients, perhaps we have a kitchen filled with too many cooks, who are changing recipes and oven temperatures so often that the food we’re baking will inevitably be unrecognizable and either vastly overcooked or undercooked.

Then again, perhaps we’re an enormous cruise ship in the middle of a vast ocean. We’re slowly turning but, because we’re such a huge vessel, we move and change direction at a rate that’s hard to perceive, especially when landmarks are either too far away or are masked by an enveloping fog.

Perhaps we’ve become a collection of angry bees, buzzing loudly, perceiving threats from everywhere and everyone — even inside our own honey-producing hive. Are we truly threatened from within and without, facing insurrection among the ranks of other bees, or are we surrounded by majestic purple mountains? Are we creating such cacophony that we can’t hear the birds singing around us?

We may be a batch of apples, looking suspiciously at the other fruit in the bin, wondering if any of us have turned bad, threatening the entire bunch.

Maybe we’re on a roller-coaster ride, racing up and down, screaming and shouting as we circle tracks that we fear might need repair, hoping to return to where we were so we can regain our equanimity on solid ground again.

Maybe we’ve become a boulder gathering size and momentum as it plunges down a hill. Our anger and frustration propel us forward, even as we ignore the kinds of moments and people who could, and should, unify a country. Have you been to a sporting event lately? I’m not thinking of the athletes as unifying forces.

I’m talking about the salutes to members of the military that often occur during the seventh-inning stretch in a baseball game or during a stoppage in the action in the middle of a hockey game. People throughout the stadium — those who think Trump is either a superstar or an imploding supernova — stand and cheer together, thanking these humble men and women for the sacrifice and service to our country.

Those heroes among us are the few who might do the impossible, catching the boulder or slowing it down as it cuts a path of emotional destruction through an outraged nation.

Then again, maybe the best metaphor to keep in mind amid the finger-pointing and criticism and self-doubt is the document that got us this far: the Constitution. It is the enduring net that protects the country and its citizens, even when we seem to be shadow boxing against each other on a high wire at the top of a circus tent.

First of all, we’re going to need a big cake. No, I know you think most cakes are big and that most people’s eyes are bigger than their stomachs, but this one is going to have to be huge.

You see, we’re about to celebrate an important birthday. Next week, it’s the 242nd birthday of the country, so we’ll need a place to put all the candles.

So, what do we get for the country that has everything?

Well, for starters, it depends on what you imagine represents the country. Is it the Statue of Liberty? The bald eagle? A baseball game? Mount Rushmore? The Grand Canyon?

Seriously, this is one huge country and we haven’t even discussed the last two states to join the union.

Alaska is a gem, with vistas stretching as far as the eye can see, as shimmering spawning salmon make streams and rivers glow orange, while bears nibble here and there as cars and buses pass them along the sides of the highways.

Hawaii reminded everyone this year that it’s a volcanic archipelago. It’s a magnificent and lush combination of majestic mountains, bamboo forests and striking cliffs.

So, what would this great country of ours want for its birthday?

Well, maybe it would want us, even for a day, to all get along. We are all Americans, we have all heard the
stories about the forefathers who
fought for this country, who defied the British, and who wanted what was best for them and, all these years later, us.

Maybe it would want us to tidy up. After all, who doesn’t want to look good on their birthday, right? We could clean up our yards, clean up our neighbor’s yard, remove trash from the area around the school, a place so many enthusiastic children recently abandoned for the start of the summer.

Maybe we should take a moment to think about how we are helping ourselves, or others, reach the American Dream. We all want life to be better, but maybe we can encourage others to strive for, and reach, a dream that anyone from anywhere could reach greatness. We are not like Europeans of past centuries, who limited
opportunities for success by class, gender or ancestry.

The home of the free and the land of the brave is all about allowing anyone from any walk of life to reach their potential and, more importantly, to decide their potential.

America is about celebrating youth. We are a young country, filled with hope for the future, unbridled
optimism and joy.

Regardless of what politicians in Washington say, we are also a country that likes to laugh, even at ourselves. We have a great sense of humor. Need a laugh? Watch “Bridesmaids” or “Groundhog Day” — or if in the mood for something older, “Animal House.”

We pull apart and then we come together. We speak with different accents, depending on where we come from or what part of the world our ancestors originally inhabited.

When we come together, we are unstoppable, finding our best selves from the roles we play in companies, on teams, or in close-knit families that stand ready, willing and able to support each other through any challenge.

Sure, we can hang the flag, eat a hot dog, have a barbecue and sing a few American songs to celebrate our country. But, hey, maybe we can also look for the best in each other and in ourselves as we again give hope to the notion that a rising tide of optimism, of cooperation, of compassion lifts all boats.

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I’m a coach for a boys’ basketball team. I want to win every game because that’s what America is all about — winning. I want to make my team great again, because we haven’t been as great as we’d like to be and that’s not acceptable.

Now, I know there are parents on this team and the other team who find my methods and my approach worrisome. Don’t. I’m going to win and that’ll be great and I have a plan. No, I’m not going to share it with you and, no, just because you heard some things about me doesn’t mean they’re true.

Who’s telling you all those things? Do you believe any of them? Well, you shouldn’t, because I don’t. I have plenty of people who are eager to tell you how great I am. There’s a woman with blonde hair who I can put in front of you who will make sure you understand what I mean when I say what I say.

Well, I don’t always say anything. I prefer to tweet, particularly about the other team. You see that other coach the other day? I heard someone, and mind you it wasn’t me, suggest that he might not have been born in the United States.

Yes, I know he’s still allowed to coach here and, yes, I know there are plenty of incredibly important people who came to the U.S. and contributed greatly to the founding, establishment and greatness of this country. That’s not the point. The point is that I want to win and be great and greatness comes from here, and not from over there. If you can’t tell, I’m pointing to the fertile, rich, wonderful soil beneath my feet. Well, no, actually, I’m not pointing to the soil. I’m pointing at my expensive shoes. You want greatness? You need nice shoes.

Speaking of nice shoes, did you see the shoes that one of the moms wore to the game the other day? Wait, what? I’m not allowed to notice beautiful women and their nice shoes now? That’s not fair. If they wear the shoes, I should be able to notice them. I notice the nice shoes my daughter, Danika, wears and they make her feet look magnificent. I’m so proud of those shoes and those feet.

Oh yes, I heard that other coach saying things about me behind my back while I was looking at him and he was speaking to me. How dare he say things that didn’t support me. He should be locked up.

If I were on Twitter right now, I’d say he was wrong! I might spell it incorrectly because my mistakes give my opponents, who I trounce like sad little bugs, something to talk about when they’re trying to get in the way of my greatness.

So, here we are at the game. It’s finally starting. The referees look shifty to me. Who wears black and white? Is that some kind of politically correct statement? It didn’t work for Seinfeld when he had that black-and-white cookie episode. He got sick. Remember that? Ah, TV. Isn’t it awesome?

Anyway, so we need to win the game and we need to make sure the other team loses. I’m going to win because I know things other people don’t and I’m “marts.” You see? I had a deliberate misspelling there, putting the “s” in the wrong place.

Now that the game has ended, I’m disappointed in everyone. The refs? Rigged! The other coach? Ridiculous! The fans? Well, what do the ones who complain know anyway?

I know I won, but that’s besides the point. I want the losers to know that they’re losers, even though they can be great someday, too, if they listen to me.

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Taking credit is easy. It usually means you are patting yourself on the back for something you did or helped do that went well, or that went the way you desired.

In annual reviews, in résumés or on college applications, it’s a great idea to take credit for the ways you contributed, led or facilitated positive outcomes. It’s a way of sharing your potential for future successes with other colleagues, co-workers, bosses or schools.

It’s a fine line because taking credit for, say, the weather on the day of a picnic seems inappropriate and far fetched; or taking credit for something for which your primary role was to cheer for a particular outcome also seems inaccurate.

The other side of the credit coin is accepting responsibility for mistakes or results that fell short of your expectations or hopes.

I read that President-elect Donald Trump has congratulated himself on consumer confidence and the stock market surge since the election.

His election could be a contributing factor in the optimism of consumers or in the personified mind of the stock market.

I wonder, though, when life for Americans doesn’t go the way we would all like, will he also accept responsibility? Will the man who will be the leader of the free world be able to see his role in problems, learn from mistakes and show the kind of flexibility that other world leaders will consider inspiring or redemptive?

When things don’t go the way he or we the people might like, he has blamed others. His favorite target, and a favorite villain for many presidents over the years, has been the media. It’s an easy target because someone can always disagree with the facts or can come up with an alternative theory for them.

I would encourage the man who is so comfortable patting himself on the back — and who seems to be surrounding himself with people who are so supportive of him — to learn to look in the mirror and grow with this enormous job.

Learning isn’t easy or necessarily natural. That’s especially true when you’re confident you know more than anyone else, even intelligence officials, and when you rely on your business or street smarts to win every battle.

Maybe it’s especially challenging for him to accept that he needs educating as a president, in a job which requires him to be decisive and consistent.

At the same time, the president-elect has this opportunity to be a role model in the way he grows with the job.

I wonder, though, how he would deal with a leader with the same personality, self-confidence and strong will that he showed throughout the election cycle. Would he be able to adjust to the way someone else used his own playbook? Perhaps we have already seen glimpses of that, in the way he admires Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, with whom he seems to be sharing a daily global spotlight.

People on both sides of the political aisle probably agree that Trump is a character. It would be a wonderful moment if they all recognized at some point that he also had the kind of character that inspired others to learn, grow and compete against the best in the world.

Instead of recognizing and highlighting other people’s shortcomings, failures or deficiencies, Trump might also take a moment to see ways he himself can improve. If he shares his learning curve, he might provide a new route for others to do their best.

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Verbs await like a collection of colors, quivering, shaking and jumping on their palettes to define and describe the unfolding scene.

What verbs will we use to describe the future president of the United States, whose name itself can be a verb?

Well, for starters, he tweets. We know that fact through his candidacy and it’s a pattern that continues now that he is assembling a cabinet and as he awaits his turn as president. His tweets represent his direct-to-the-people message, cutting out the middle man of the media. As with pharmaceutical companies that market their products directly to consumers, sometimes Trump’s tweet messages, which crackle like thunderbolts from his fingers, should come with a warning. For example, “Don’t operate heavy equipment while listening to these tweets, which may cause shortness of breath,” or, “If you find yourself shouting approval or disapproval in response to these tweets, try not to read them in church, in a library or any place where shouting could cause a crisis.”

When he communicates with the populace, with American leaders or with foreign leaders, what verbs will fill the canvas?

He often seems to warn, to threaten and to demand. Maybe he believes American greatness starts with a tough president who insists America and its interests go directly to the front of any line.

In recent days, he has weighed in on the discussion about the election, claiming widespread voter fraud prevented him from winning the popular vote “beauty contest.”

Through his tweets, he also leveled attacks against reporters he derides for disagreeing with him.

I get it: As an agent of change, Trump may feel it’s his job not to highlight everything that’s going well with the country or to shout encouragement. That, he may believe, would be like telling a kid who has struck out continuously that he’s having a great game.

Shifting from the visuals of colors on a page to the sounds at a pep rally, will the Trump presidency repeat similar notes with a single tone? Will he continue to castigate, to criticize, to claim and to attack? Those are just a few of the verbs that describe the approach Candidate Trump took on the contentious campaign trail.

At some point, does President Trump become like a strong-willed character in a compelling novel? Will his experiences enable him to make a transition to becoming a president who emits a different tone and who leads to a symphony of greatness that comes from every part of the country?

Will the cajoling, the criticizing and the arguing transition to educating, inspiring and elevating? Yes, I know his approach and policies may help educate more Americans and may help bridge the gap between the testing levels American students reach compared with students in other nations.

Certainly, as Trump demonstrated during his campaign stops, he can and has rallied people. What actions, what verbs, will describe the way Americans and, indeed, people around the world, react to his message? As an agent of change after the polished rhetoric of President Obama, Trump may not want to compete and, indeed, may sprint away from the pontifications his predecessor proffered.

That, however, doesn’t preclude Trump from the kinds of verbs we hope we can employ to fill the pages of the next four years. Will he encourage, empower and reassure Americans about the government that supports, protects and serves them?

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the incumbent, will continue to represent the 1st Congressional District. Photo by Alex Petroski

Results of the Nov. 8 election have America seeing red.

While President-elect Donald Trump (R) won the presidency with 279 Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 228, many of the North Shore races produced Republican victories as well.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) was one of the Democrats who survived. He outscored his Republican challenger Wendy Long 59.94 to 38.26 percent, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. New York State Sens. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and John Flanagan (R-East Northport) earned fresh terms, as the public reelected the incumbents.

“I am so gosh darn proud to be a Republican, to be here working with you,” Flanagan said. “Let’s keep pulling ahead.” He thanked everyone for joining him at Mirelle’s Restaurant in Westbury and congratulated his fellow local Republican politicians while the audience continued to cheer him on.

Assemblyman Andy Raia addresses the crowd. He will be entering his ninth term. Photo by Kevin Redding
Assemblyman Andy Raia addresses the crowd. He will be entering his ninth term. Photo by Kevin Redding

Flanagan won his race 63.57 percent to his Democratic challenger Peter Magistrale’s 32.46 percent. LaValle earned 67.18 percent of the vote to Democrat Gregory Fischer’s 32.73 percent.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), another incumbent who kept a firm grasp on his seat, applauded his opponent following his victory.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to represent the 1st Congressional District,” he said during his speech at The Emporium in Patchogue. “A powerful message was sent across New York.”

That message was the sea of red that swept across not only the state but also the nation.

“We are going to have a new president of the United States, and his name is Donald J. Trump,” Zeldin said prior to the national election results. “We’re going to make American great again.”

Zeldin defeated his Democratic challenger Anna Throne-Holst handily with 58.93 percent of the 1st district’s votes. The congressman also mentioned in his speech his desire to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Throne-Holst honored the results of the election and conceded the race.

“Suffolk County represents the very fabric of America, with hardworking men and women determined to support their families and build a democracy that moves our country forward and makes our communities stronger,” Throne-Holst said. “I’d like to thank everyone who has supported our campaign over the course of this incredible journey. It is our collective vision of a fair and unified America that will guide the road ahead and shape the future for our next generation.”

Throne-Holst said in a statement she will continue to fight for families and children in future pursuits, and added she is honored to have the faith and confidence of men and women throughout the 1st district.

“May we come together in the wake of this divisive campaign season,” Throne-Holst said, “to establish a more resilient country for us all.”

“It is our collective vision of a fair and unified America that will guide the road ahead and shape the future for our next generation.”

— Anna Throne-Holst

Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), another Democrat who won a seat on election night, will succeed Rep. Steve Israel in the 3rd district. He fell short with Suffolk County voters, 48.27 percent to Republican challenger Jack Martins’ 51.68 percent, but when coupled with his Queens votes, he bested Martins 52 to 48 percent.

“This race has really been about the values my dad taught,” Suozzi said during his post-results speech at The Milleridge Inn in Jericho. “I’m going to need everyone in this room to help me because if I stick my head up and say something that’s not the normal thing to be said, they’re going to try and smack us down.”

He added regardless of the results of the presidential election, “we really need to do some soul searching.” He referenced figuring out what will happen with health care coverage, the shrinking middle class, immigration reform, climate chance, gun violence and the tax code. He added there’s more important work to be done.

“We have to figure out what’s going on in the country,” he said. “We need to figure out how to bring people back together again to work together.”

In local races for the State Assembly, incumbents continued to sweep the North Shore.

Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) edged his opponent 58.91 percent to 41.03 percent to continue representing the 4th district. His challenger, Steven Weissbard, called the assemblyman a “goliath,” and added, “If you want to win, you can’t be afraid to fight.”

Anna Throne-Holst, Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District, addresses the crowd following her loss on election night to incumbent Lee Zeldin. Photo by Lloyd Newman
Anna Throne-Holst, Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District, addresses the crowd following her loss on election night to incumbent Lee Zeldin. Photo by Lloyd Newman

Incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) outscored Rich Macellaro 69.81 to 30.17 percent in the 8th district to earn his eighth term in the Assembly. Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) won the 10th district with 58.24 percent of the votes over Democrat Ed Perez for his fourth term, and Andy Raia (R-East Northport) will enter his ninth term in office after garnering 65.26 percent of voters’ support over Spencer Rumsey (D) in the 12th district.

“Chad and I — we do our thing, we go to Albany and beat our heads against the desk with the supermajority of New York City,” Raia said during his postelection speech at Huntington Station’s VFW Post 1469. “But we make sure that your voice is heard day in and day out, because you’re what it’s all about. You’re the reason we live out of a suitcase six months out of the year — because you’re the bread and butter of this.”

Robert Murphy (R) will continue to patrol the highways of Smithtown as its highway superintendent. He reigned over Justin Smiloff (D) with 69 percent of the votes.

Candidates on both sides viewed this election season as a turning point for the state and country.

“It’s not about us candidates, it is about all of you here together and fighting this good fight and wanting to make change, and wanting to make sure that we are representing the people that we know need good representation,” Throne-Holst said during her speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25 in Hauppauge. “We need to bear in mind that we are about unity. We are about moving forward. We are about public service. We are about the issues that matter.”

Her opponent expressed a similar sentiment.

“When we wake up tomorrow,” Zeldin said, “we have to come together.”

Rebecca Anzel, Victoria Espinoza, Donna Newman, Alex Petroski and Kevin Redding contributed reporting.

Stock photo.

By Bruce Stasiuk

Ahem.

The subject of this talk is American education; or, as I sometimes call it … artificial intelligence. Full disclosure: I admit that I don’t know much about what goes on in high school, having spent only four distracted years at that level. This presentation refers to the foundational years — the K-6 building blocks where I invested six seasons as a parochial student.

After completing the requirements at Adelphi Suffolk University, I was invited to teach a few graduate courses there. Afterwards, I spent 34 enjoyable, yet disorganized seasons as a classroom teacher, then eight more years instructing a course called Thinking Inside the Box for K-12 teachers, which gave me the opportunity to examine the species up close and personal. That comes to about 50 years in fuzzy numbers. But, who’s counting on me?

You’re urged to disagree with anything expressed here, because I make mistakes regularly, myself being a product of the American industrial-education complex. Let’s start with the premise that all knowledge is worthwhile and desirable. There is no benefit to not knowing something. Ignorance is not blissful. However, all knowledge is not of equal value. The ability to read about the inventor of the cotton gin is of more value than knowing and memorizing his name. Likewise, although there would be some usefulness in recalling every number in the Manhattan phone book, and the cognitive exercise would be an accomplishment, it would mostly be a huge waste of “edu-minutes.” Knowing how to alphabetically look up a phone number is a more valuable and transferable skill. At least until it’s made obsolete in our advancing digital world. So, can we agree that some knowledge is of lower value, some is of higher value, and some is rapidly approaching an expiring shelf life?

Since schools operate by the clock and calendar, there is a finite amount of class time for learning. There is so much to learn, but students can’t learn it all. So, choices must be made. Schools need to adopt a regular policy of knowledge triage. There’s got to be jetsam and flotsam in order to make room for the important cargo. But even if schools agreed to do it, would they flotsam the right jetsam?

Ask your local administrator what’s the last thing added to the curriculum. Then ask, what was removed to make room for it. If there’s no answer, it means the program was diluted (unless the school day or year was expanded — not a chance) or in a misguided way, the usual ballast of art and music were reduced. Like the roach motel, once something enters the schoolhouse door, it can almost never leave. Schools change very little. If you were in the fifth grade 25 years ago and you visited a class today, it would look very familiar. Computers and tablets are used like electric paper, but the substance is the same. Oh, the blackboards are now smarter … but are the kids? Old wine in new bottles.

Remember, the learning clock is ticking. Time is passing. As a child, I had a fantasy of every person, at birth, receiving a huge hourglass. Except it wasn’t designed to measure an hour. It was constructed as a lifetime-glass. The top bulb contained all the sand representing one’s life according to actuarial tables. It was inverted at birth and the sand started trickling through the narrow stem passageway. One could see the top bulb dripping sand into the bottom bulb. Even at night, opening one eye, one could visualize their lifetime with the lower heap growing while the upper kept draining smaller. I wondered if a life would be led differently with such a visual aid.

Schools have to think that way. They must sort out, rummage through, and evaluate all available knowledge and select those age-appropriate things that will help develop students into educated people with transferable skills and functional wisdom. Ideally, layer upon layer will build up until enough practical knowledge and related talents enable graduates to negotiate life in a fluid and uncertain world — a very moveable feast. A friend recently told me the experience of his dental school orientation at the University of Maryland. The dean advised the new students that 50% of what they’d learn would no longer be true by the time they graduated. Furthermore, he advised, they won’t know which 50% it was.

So what did we learn in school? Reading. Of course reading. And math. Although I never did divide 4/7 by 3/9 ever again, I remember some lessons quite well. Pilgrims wore funny hats and buckled shoes. We drew pictures of them. They were brought home and taped to refrigerators — or iceboxes —remember, this was the South Bronx in the ‘50s. “Mary’s violet eyes … ” helped us learn what was, at the time, the order of the planets. But of what practical value is there in knowing that Jupiter is nearer to the earth than Saturn? So little time … so much knowledge.

Bruce Stasiuk of Setauket continued to teach after retirement. He currently offers workshops to seniors (citizens, that is) as an instructor in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, housed on the campus of Stony Brook University.

Look for part 2 in next week’s edition.

Fire departments, town and village governments, and schools all participated in memorial events to commemorate the lives lost during Sept. 11, 2001. Residents came to show support, as well as help read off the names of those who perished, lay wreaths and take a moment to honor the American lives lost, and all the first responders and civilians who helped save lives at Ground Zero.

 

A man touches the wall to pay respect to someone he lost on Sept. 11, 2001 at Rocky Point Fire Department’s 9/11 memorial service. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Residents throughout Suffolk County will have their choice of memorial ceremonies to attend this Sept. 11.

Huntington

The East Northport Fire Department will be hosting its annual memorial service this Sunday, with two separate events, both being held at the Ninth Avenue side of the firehouse at the 9/11 Memorial Monument on Sept. 11. The morning ceremony will begin at 9:45 a.m., and the evening candlelight vigil will begin at 8 p.m. Both ceremonies are set around an eight-foot, 8,000-pound steel beam from Ground Zero that the department received from the Port Authority. During the ceremony, firefighters will read victim’s names, and sirens will sound to commemorate the collapse of the twin towers. The Northport High School Tights will sing the national anthem and “America the Beautiful,” with “Amazing Grace” played by the Northport Pipe & Drum Band. There will be a 21-gun salute from the Marine Corps League and the release of memorial doves.  A memorial banner will be displayed on a fire engine that lists all of the victim’s names. A Suffolk County Police Department helicopter will be doing a flyover during the ceremony. 

Huntington Town will also be holding a small ceremony at Heckscher Park at noon this Friday, Sept. 9.

Smithtown

Members of the East Northport Fire Department participate in the annual 9/11 memorial service on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Members of the East Northport Fire Department participate in the annual 9/11 memorial service on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The Commack School District will be presenting a candlelight ceremony of remembrance. It will be held at the Commack High School football field at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. The 9/11 Memorial Players, Mimi Juliano, Mark Newman and Joe Zogbi, will perform music, and honorary guest speakers will attend.

The St. James Fire Department will also be hosting a service at 6 p.m. Sunday at the 9/11 memorial at the firehouse. Local legislators will speak, the Smithtown High School band and choir will perform, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9486 will perform a gun salute. The names of Smithtown residents and community members who lost their lives on Sept. 11 will be read including New York Police Officer Glenn Pettit, New York Fire Department Chief Lawrence Stack, New York Fire Department Chief Donald Burns, Port Authority Officer Jean Andrucki and New York Fireman Doug Oelschlager.

Brookhaven

The Order Sons of Italy in America will host its seventh annual 9/11 tribute. The candlelight remembrance is at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at Harborfront Park at Port Jefferson Village Center located at 101A East Broadway. The event will feature guest speakers and refreshments. All are welcome. For more information contact Anthony Rotoli Jr. at 631-928-7489.

The Sons of Italy Lodge was renamed the Vigiano Brothers Lodge to honor Port Jefferson residents. John Vigiano Jr. was a firefighter and Joseph Vigiano was a police detective.  On Sept. 11, 2001, both Vigiano brothers responded to the call to the World Trade Center, and both were killed while saving others. John Vigiano Sr. is a retired NYC firefighter whose two sons followed him into service.  The attacks of 9/11 inflicted a tremendous loss on his family and also on our country. Therefore, we honored these two heroes and their family by naming the Sons of Italy Lodge after them in Port Jefferson.

The Port Jefferson Fire Department will host its annual 9/11 memorial ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 9:30 a.m. At the Maple Place firehouse, firefighters and residents will gather to pay their respects to those who died in the terrorist attacks in 2001, including first responders from the Town of Brookhaven who perished while answering the call of duty at the World Trade Center. The ceremony includes a memorial service in which the names of the town firefighters who died that day will be read aloud.

An official plays the bugle at Port Jefferson Fire Department's 13th annual 9/11 memorial ceremony. Photo by Giselle Barkley
An official plays the bugle at Port Jefferson Fire Department’s 13th annual 9/11 memorial ceremony. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The Rocky Point Fire Department 9/11 Memorial Committee invites the communities of Rocky Point and Shoreham to its 15th Annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. This ceremony will take place at the 9/11 Community Memorial site which is located on the corner of Route 25A and Tesla Street in Shoreham, next to the Shoreham Firehouse. Light refreshments will be served after the ceremony.

In honor of the 15th anniversary of the events that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, the Setauket Fire District will host a community 9/11 remembrance ceremony Sunday, Sept. 11, beginning at 10 a.m. The program will take place at the district’s 9/11 Memorial Park, located at 394 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook. The ceremony will include brief remarks from department representatives, a moment of silence and the official dedication of the two “survivor trees” recently planted in the fire district’s 9/11 Memorial Park. These trees were seeded from the 9/11 survivor tree located at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. Light refreshments will follow the ceremony, and attendees will be invited to visit the different sections of the expanded Setauket 9/11 Memorial Park, which also includes a stone monument inscribed with the names of those lost on 9/11 and a patriotic water display.

The Alumni Association of Stony Brook University will sponsor a commemoration of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, throughout Monday, Sept. 12, with a field of pinwheels on the Academic Mall. This is the third year that the event will be held. Students and faculty are invited to take a moment to remember those lost.

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When we need each other, we come together. That, as much as anything else, is the legacy of 9/11. Its 15th anniversary falls this Sunday.

Every year, we in the news business and, indeed, in society, struggle to know how to remember that terrible day in 2001. Years ago, the editor in chief at the New York Daily News, where I was working, asked me when we should stop running the names of the people who died that day, when 9/11 should no longer be on the front page, and when we should respect the day but give it less coverage. I told him I couldn’t imagine that day.

Those of us who knew people that died think about those people regularly, not just on an anniversary or at a memorial. They travel with us, the way others we’ve lost over the years do, in our hearts and in our minds.

Those first few days and months after the attacks, people in New York stopped taking things for granted and saw the things we share with each other as a source of strength.

This year, in particular, seems a good time not only to remember what makes us and this country great, but also a time to reflect on who we want to be and how we want to interact.

We have two candidates for the White House who seem intent on acting like impetuous Greek gods, shooting weapons at each other and describing each other’s faults and weaknesses to us.

Debate and disagreement are part of this country, just as they were in 1858, when Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas famously debated across Illinois. And yet, despite their disagreements and their passion for office, they held each other in considerably higher esteem than the two unpopular candidates who now want to be president.

How can the two parties that seem so intent on running in opposite directions today, and the two candidates who genuinely loathe each other, work together, come together, and inspire us when they are so obsessed with their animosity?

This Sunday, and maybe even this week, we should remind them — and ourselves — about all the things we Americans felt and did on those days after 9/11. Certainly, we mourned those we’d lost and we wondered aloud about our enemies.

But we also visited with each other, made calls to friends and family, checked on our neighbors, and offered support wherever and however we felt able. Some people donated to charities, while others gave blood, time or energy to helping the survivors and the families of those who lost loved ones.

Yes, we looked to protect ourselves and to understand who and what we were fighting, but we the people — the ones our government is supposed to protect, represent and reflect — became more patient in lines and became less upset over the little things. We looked out for each other.

It’s easy to imagine a boogeyman everywhere we go. Generations of Americans have pictured and envisioned monsters from within and without our borders, intent on destroying our way of life.

We can’t let fear and hatred dictate our actions. I don’t want to hear Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump shout about how unqualified each of them is for office. I want them to reflect a respect for all Americans, their opponents included, on this solemn day and during this solemn week. I don’t doubt that each of them loves America. Instead of telling us how they’ll be great leaders, demonstrate it to us by coming together.

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