Rain couldn’t halt the annual memorial service held on Monday, Sept. 11, in downtown Port Jefferson.
The Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America Vigiano Brothers Lodge 3436 hosts this event each year. The vigil honors the lives of brothers John and Joseph Vigiano, who died from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.
Traditionally held outdoors in Harborfront Park, this year’s iteration moved to the Village Center’s drier interior, a last-minute accommodation courtesy of the Village of Port Jefferson.
“I don’t care if it was raining or not raining, we were going to get this done,” said Anthony Rotoli Jr., president of the lodge.
Lodge members, community residents, faith leaders and public officials gathered for a ceremony of prayer and reflection. Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and T.J. Hatter, Long Island director of intergovernmental affairs for New York State Attorney General Letitia James (D), each addressed the audience in turn.
Of the many annual events Kornreich attends, he referred to 9/11 memorial services as “the most solemn and most painful.” Despite the lingering pain over two decades later, the councilmember maintained that the nation has endured.
“Although that day was a day of terror and sorrow and tragedy, the days that followed became days of community, hope and resolve,” he said.
In the face of tragedy, Hatter maintained that “inspiration can come from many places.” He asked those present to apply the examples of service and selflessness exhibited on 9/11 to their daily lives.
“Hope is real,” he said. “There is no such thing as false or too much hope. There is only hope. As we remember those who were lost that day, I want to thank you all for being here to help keep that hope alive.”
Englebright offered that services such as these can keep the memory of the 9/11 fallen heroes alive.
“We must never forget, always remember, and always give thanks to those who ran into the buildings and up the stairway into heaven on behalf of all of us,” he said. “The rain is the tears from heaven today.”