Category Archives: American Legion

To Light a Candle…. 9/11

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry  (ann-parry.com)
September 11, 2017

  • On each anniversary of September 11, 2011, but not only on each anniversary, I remember the events of that day and how they’ve changed our world.

On Sept. 11, 2001, we were a week or so into the new school year at Grand Avenue Middle School in Bellmore, Long Island. Except for our class computers suddenly losing internet access early that morning, it began as an ordinary Tuesday.

Sept. 11, 2012 - Merrick, New York, U.S. - LYLA WILLIAMS, 3, and KATE OLLENDIKE, 2, helping place 500 Luminary Bags in front of 215 Wenshaw Park homes, on 11th Anniversary of 9/11, by Wenshaw Park Civic Association (WPCA), Long Island, with over $500 already raised for Twin Towers Orphan Fund. (Ann Parry/-)

Merrick, New York, USA. Sept. 11, 2012.  LYLA WILLIAMS, 3, and KATE OLLENDIKE, 2, help place 500 Luminary Bags in front of 215 Wenshaw Park homes, by Wenshaw Park Civic Association, Long Island, to raise funds for Twin Towers Orphan Fund. (© 2012 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Then, as students passed from one class to another, a few of my writing students came in announcing news they’d heard on the radio in art class: “Two planes crashed into the Twin Towers!”

“What?… Well, one plane might have that sort of accident, but not two – the same day,” I said. “Someone must’ve heard the info wrong.”

But, over the loudspeaker later that morning, our principal, Fino Celano, gave us the news – calmly, solemnly – of the terrorist attacks on Manhattan’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon… then the plane crash in the Pennsylvania field. No one had heard the info wrong.

Fund raiser for firefighter Ray Pfeifer on Saturday, March 31, 2012, at East Meadow Firefighters Benevolent Hall, New York, USA. Rep. Pete King shown with Ray Pfeifer and the firefighter's wife CARYN, daughter TAYLOR, and son TERRENCE. (Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

East Meadow, NY, USA. March 31, 2012. At fundraiser for firefighter Ray Pfeifer – battling cancer after months of recovery efforts at Ground Zero following 9/11 2001 Twin Towers attack – are, L-R, in front row: son TERRENCE, daughter TAYLOR , wife CARYN, and, in back row: RAY PFEIFER, and Congressman PETE KING, at East Meadow Firefighters Benevolent Hall.  (© 2012 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

When I got home from school that afternoon, the tile floors our construction workers had ripped up from the kitchen and surrounding rooms the day before were more scattered than stacked. We were replacing our radiant in-floor heating, and the ground floor looked “like a bomb went off” – though I felt guilty even having that thought.

So the night of September 11, 2001, my husband Len, my older daughter Sue and I ate dinner at a local cafe.

Throughout the meal we watched the news coverage of the attacks on the TV up in the corner, and whispered “Nightmare… surreal… oh my god….”

Freeport, New York, USA. 10th Sept. 2014. A bugler plays taps at night on board the boat Miss Freeport V, which sailed from the Woodcleft Canal of the Freeport Nautical Mile after a dockside remembrance ceremony in honor of victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001. American Legion, Patriot Guard Riders, and Captain Frank Rizzo hosted the ceremonies on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Freeport, New York, USA. Sept. 10, 2014. Bugler plays taps at night on board boat Miss Freeport V, sailing from Woodcleft Canal of Freeport Nautical Mile after a dockside Remembrance Ceremony in honor of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks of September 11 2001. (© 2014. Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

My younger daughter Laurie was at college in Westchester. During one of our calls later that week, I told her I wanted to get her a cell phone, especially because of her trips between college and home.

Though she didn’t think she needed one, by the end of the call she understood that her mom really needed her to have one.

Removing American Flag to reveal monument made with steel from World Trade Center, at the Merrick Post #1282 American Legion Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 ceremony, are (left to right) Rabbi Paul Kirchner, Father Eric Fasano, Adjutant Robert Tom Riordan PCC, and North Merrick Fire Dept. Ex. Chief Henry Hinrichs, at Merrick Veterans Memorial Park, Merrick, New York, USA, on September 11, 2011.(Ann Parry/Ann Parry, Ann-Parry.com)

Merrick, New York, USA. Sept. 11, 2011. Removing American Flag to reveal monument made with steel from World Trade Center, at Merrick Post #1282 American Legion 10th Anniversary of 9/11 ceremony, are (L-R) Rabbi PAUL KIRCHNER; Father ERIC FASANO; Adjutant ROBERT TOM RIORDAN, PCC; and North Merrick Fire Dept. Ex. Chief HENRY HINRICHS at Merrick Veterans Memorial Park.  (© 2011 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Our neighbors across the street lost their son who worked in the Twin Towers.

A Grand Ave. coworker lost her first responder firefighter husband, and two of our students lost their fathers.

During lunch period, a fellow teacher told us how ever since 9/11 he was having nightmares about being trapped underground.

American flags multiplied everywhere, and so did patience and kindness. I didn’t notice a car horn honking for at least a year.

Manhattan, NY, USA - January 9, 2012: Movie poster "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" hangs illuminated at night over Penn Station subway entrance with Empire State Building in background. Fictional movie is set at time of 9/11 terrorist attacks on Twin Towers in NYC. Green and yellow lit globe on post is at stairwell entrance to MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) 34 St. Penn Station subway station. (Ann E Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Manhattan, NY, USA.  January 9, 2012. Movie poster EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE is displayed lit at night over Penn Station subway entrance with Empire State Building in background. Fictional movie is set at time of 9/11 terrorist attacks on Twin Towers in NYC. (© 2012 Ann E Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

And we had color-coded terrorism threat advisories….

And so many countries have terror threat alerts — for events, buildings, airlines & metros, cities….

And I feel a bit reckless, a tiny bit brave, when heading to Manhattan after an alert’s issued

And my very young grandchildren, along with all young children, can only imagine the world before 2001, through images and stories that grow older as they do.

North Bellmore Fire Department 9/11 remembrance ceremony and unveiling of two pieces of steel from the World Trade Center added to the existing 9/11 monument, 1500 Newbridge Road, North Bellmore, New York, USA, on September 10, 2011. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, Ann-Parry.com)

Bellmore, New York, USA. Sept. 10, 2011. North Bellmore Fire Department 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony and unveiling of two pieces of steel from World Trade Center added to existing 9/11 monument. (© 2011 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

And I can barely begin to imagine the feelings and pain of those killed, injured, struck with cancer, and of those who lost loved ones, due to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

But with gratitude to the first responders and other 9/11 heroes, and with hope, I will never forget. 

– Ann

click to view slideshow:   9/11 Over the Years

East Meadow, New York, USA. Summer 2017. Four birds fly over Twin Towers sculpture monument at Eisenhower Park 9/11 Monument section. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

East Meadow, NY, USA. Sept. 10, 2017. Four birds fly over Twin Towers steel sculpture at Eisenhower Park 9/11 Monument. (© 2017 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” – Chinese Proverb

Contact Me

Requiem for Booker T. Gibson

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (ann-parry.com) 
March 18, 2016

Instead of writing this right now, I’d be at Booker T. Gibson’s funeral at Union Baptist Church in Hempstead, if I’d learned about his March 10th death sooner, rather than a few minutes ago when I read his moving obituary by journalist Scott Brinton.

Merrick, New York, USA. May 27, 2013. Veteran Booker T. Gibson at Annual Memorial Day Parade 2013, hosted by American Legion Merrick Post No. 1282, with ceremony at Merrick Veteran Memorial Park. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, New York, USA. May 27, 2013. Veteran Booker T. Gibson at Annual Memorial Day Parade 2013, hosted by American Legion Merrick Post No. 1282. (© 2013 Ann Parry, Ann-Parry.com)

Booker was an active member of the American Legion Merrick Post 1282, and I’m a member of its Auxiliary. We first met on December 10, 2011, at the Northport VA Medical Center, where he played piano to accompany our AL Post members singing Christmas carols to patients. Which was more mesmerizing and expressive: Booker’s big bright eyes, his hands as they played, or his warm personality? I can’t decide.

Close-up of Booker T Gibson's hands as he plays piano at Northport VA medical Center, on Dec. 19, 2011. Light vignette. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, Ann-Parry.com)

Northport, New York, USA. December 19, 2011. Close-up of Booker T Gibson’s hands as he plays piano at Northport VA medical Center to accompany American Legion Merrick Post 1282 singers. (© 2011 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Years ago, filmmaker André Joseph contacted me to license editorial photos for EPYX Productions’ 2013 documentary film on Booker T. Gibson. When we spoke, Joseph’s deep respect for Gibson was clear, as it was later in his 2013 documentary:

AJ EPYX Documentary film:  Book T. Gibson: A Teacher’s Journey

Writing this visual requiem, I feel both sad (quite sad) and profoundly grateful to have known and photographed fellow Merrokean, fellow teacher, fellow lover of music, Booker T. Gibson.

American Legionnaires, Booker T. Gibson at right, riding in classic car in Merrick Memorial Day Parade on May 28, 2012, on Long Island, New York, USA. America's war heroes are honored on this National Holiday. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, New York, USA. May 28, 2012. American Legionnaires, Booker T. Gibson at right, riding in classic car in Merrick Memorial Day Parade. (© 2012 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Photos of Booker T. Gibson playing piano

Click to CONTACT ME

Final Roll Call – Merrick Memorial Day Parade 2014

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)
May 26, 2011

Once again, three generations of our family attended the Merrick Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony.

Merrick, New York, U.S. - May 26, 2014 - A veteran salutes fire fighters marching in The Merrick Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony, hosted by American Legion Post 1282 of Merrick, honors those who died in war while serving in the United States military. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, New York, U.S. – May 26, 2014 – Merrick Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony, hosted by American Legion Post 1282 of Merrick. (© 2014 Ann Parry/ann-parry.com)

This morning it was even more moving than usual because Dad’s name was read during the American Legion Merrick Post 1282  “Final Roll Call” near the end of the memorial events at Merrick Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Merrick, New York, U.S. - May 26, 2014 - Mother holds her 2-year-old son who is pointing to a Fire Engine in the Merrick Memorial Day Parade, hosted by American Legion Post 1282 of Merrick, honoring those who died in war while serving in the United States military. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, New York, U.S. – May 26, 2014 –  Merrick Memorial Day Parade & Ceremony. (©2014  Ann Parry/ann-parry.com)

We miss you and we love you, Dad.

Photo Gallery:  Merrick Memorial Day 2014

Click to CONTACT ME