Historic Schiller Institute Memorial To Tu-154 Disaster at the Tear-Drop Memorial in Bayonne, New Jersey

A truly beautiful and world historic event took place Saturday at the Tear-Drop Memorial in Bayonne, New Jersey. The Schiller Institute Chorus, following their performance of the Russian National Anthem at the Russian Consulate in Manhattan last week in memory of the 92 victims of the Tu-154 crash, and especially the death of 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, organized a similar, broader event at the Tear-Drop Memorial, donated to America by the Russian government to honor those who died on 9/11. Attending and/or speaking at the event were representatives of the Russian Mission to the UN, the NYPD, the Bayonne Fire Department, the Bayonne American Legion, the 9-11 Families United for Justice Against Terror, and the Schiller Institute, who sang and/or spoke, in a winter storm, about the necessity of the people and governments of Russia and America to unite in honor of the deceased, while demonstrating that the common, human emotion that unites us to mourn those who have been taken from us, can and must also unite us in creating a better future for Mankind.

The transcript of the event follows:

LIEUTENANT TONY GIORGIO (Director of the NYPD Ceremonial Unit): Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.   Welcome to the Bayonne, New Jersey 9/11 Memorial, a gift from the Russian people after the tragic attacks at the World Trade Center in memory of both the February 1993 and Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

And we’re here this morning to pay homage and tribute to those Russian members that were killed on Christmas Day.  Everyone please remain standing for the presentation of our colors, for the New York City Police Department Color Guard, the Bayonne Fire Department Honor Guard, and the American Legion Honor Guard; and the singing of both the Russian Federation National Anthem and the United States National Anthem, which will be performed by the Schiller Institute Chorus, directed by Diane Sare.

And now, our Anthems. ... [after the National Anthems, presenting of the colors, and invocation, Lieutenant Giorgio introduced the First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, Mr. Petr Iliichev].

MR. PETR ILIICHEV:  Friends and colleagues, we gather today to honor the victims of the devastating crash of the Tupolev-154 that happened two weeks ago.  We come together to commemorate 92 passengers including members of world famous Alexandrov Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance; the prominent charity worker and humanitarian worker Dr. Liza Glinka; teams of Russian TV channels, Zvezda, NTV; as well as the crew of the plane.

Our thoughts and prayers are going to the families of the victims.  The singers, the dancers, doctors, journalists, pilots and stewards, lived their lives for a purpose, especially the performers who used to cheer up huge audiences, but today we stay silent in their memory.

Today is the Orthodox Christmas Day, and on Christmas Day in every nation, we share life, love, we exchange support; we praise each other, we treat each other as being one family.  And it’s very symbolic that today we gather to grieve at the Tear-Drop of grief that is very dear to the American people for their loss of 9/11.

On behalf of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you present here, to all of those who organized this event.  It’s helpful when you’re grieving, and you are not alone, your friends are around to offer you their compassion, their heartwarming solidarity.  We value very much your sympathy and your solidarity.

It’s said that when words fail, music speaks.  Arts and culture are meant to bring peace to people.  So once again, I’m very grateful for Schiller Institute Chorus for what they have done, and all of you who are present here.  Thank you.

LT. GIORGIO: Thank you so much, Mr. Illichev.  And now, I’d like to introduce the Chairwoman of the 9-11 Families United for Justice against Terror, Mrs. Terry Strada.

MRS. TERRY STRADA:  Hello and thank you for having me.

Fifteen years ago I lost my husband Tom, in the September 11th terrorist attack against our nation.  Today, on behalf of everyone standing here, and the American people, I would like to offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences, for the sudden, tragic and senseless death of your beloved Alexandrov Ensemble, your loved ones, and your fellow citizens.

Rich in history and pride, the Alexandrov Ensemble bolstered the spirits of the deprived soldiers defending the Warsaw Pact and under President Vladimir Putin, continued that tradition of patriot purpose.  Their performances would provide a moral balance in difficult times, and on December 25th, they were travelling to Syria to lift the spirits of the Russian army during their time away from home.

Everyone here knows your pain, how deep your sorrow goes, and the feeling that you may drown in your tears.  Grief like this is both physical and heartbreaking and the road to healing is long and difficult.  Allow yourself to mourn, to cry and to be sad.  Remember those you loved, and lost.  Remember the beautiful music they made, and how it felt in your hearts when you heard their songs and the sound of their beautiful instruments:  They were a gift from God and they are gone, too soon.

I am standing here today to tell you to tell you and to show you, you will heal, you will never forget, but you will heal, and one day the pain you are feeling, this horrible pain, will subside.  You will miss them, and they will always be with you in spirit.

Tragedies like this can bring a nation today.  Today, it is bringing two nations together, and I hope you find comfort in knowing we feel your pain and mourn your loss, too.  Russia wanted us, the American people, to have a memorial for the fallen heroes and the citizens lost and killed on 9/11, with a tear-drop, representing that the world cried with us.  Thank you for your kindness and support.  Today we offer you the same.  Thank you.

LT. GIORGIO:  Thank you Mrs. Strada.  And now, I continue with the Training Unit of the Bayonne Fire Department, Capt. Don Haiber.

CAPT. DON HAIBER (Training Unit of the Bayonne Fire Department):  On behalf of the Bayonne Fire Department, the City of Bayonne, the State of New Jersey, and the United States of America, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to the people of Russia and the families that have been affected by this terrible tragedy.  The loss of the members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, a gem of Russian culture, also known as the Red Army Chorus, will be felt worldwide.

Being hear at the Tear-Drop Memorial is fitting, since the creator of this monument was the Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli.  In the darkness after 9/11, this monument helped to bring hope and light to the many people who visited here.  It is now our turn to repay that kindness back to Russia.  This small token of our sympathy, hopefully, will bring a touch of hope and light back to the Russian people.

On a personal level, I’m honored to be here today, as I was actually at the Ground Zero, working with my brother firemen for a few days.  And may the peace and hope that I feel when I am here be conveyed back to your country.  It is at times like this that we are neither Americans nor Russians, but we are human beings who feel loss and genuinely wish peace and happiness to one another.

Our love and prayers are with you, and peace to all.  Thank you.

LT. GIORGIO:  Thank you, Captain Haiber.  As the Captain mentioned, one of the reasons that we are here is not only is it the 9/11 memorial, but also we are commemorating those lost on Christmas Day, in that terrible plane crash.  As a representative of the New York City Police Department, we, too, performed with the Russian choir at the 10th anniversary of 9/11 that was being held in Quebec City, and it was a wonderful performance that night.  But as Mr. Iliichev said, sometimes the words fail, but the music never fails.  And even though we spoke two different languages, we spoke the universal language of music which always gives us hope, comfort, and peace, and that’s all we want in this world are those three things.

I now introduce the director of the choir, Mrs. Diane Sare.

DIANE SARE:  First of all, let me assure everyone, we are not a group of Russian immigrants, as was said on YouTube.

On behalf of the Schiller Institute of Mrs. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, I would like to offer our deepest condolences to Russia and the people of Russia on the great losses you have recently suffered.  First, your beloved Ambassador [to Ankara] Karlov was gunned down at an art museum.  Then, only a few days later, on Christmas Day was the terrible plane crash, which took the lives of 92 people:  Among them was a dedicated crew, a group of very talented young journalists, Dr. Elizeveta Glinka, whom you mentioned who was bringing food and medical aid to children in Syria, and 64 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble and the wonderful soloist, Grigory Osipov who sang "God Bless America" to the New York Police Department on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The loss of the chorus was particularly great, because as everyone who sings in a chorus knows, the combination of our voices is greater than each of us individually, or each of us added up as parts.  Each and every one of us is going to die.  But we hope that mankind will be immortal.  If we can each think of ourselves as unique voices in a great chorus which stands across generations and across continents, then the universe will resound with the beauty of mankind.

LT. GIORGIO:  Thank you so much.  And now, we’re going to ask to have the wreath presented, also with the list of passengers on that tragic flight, as the chorus performs a Christmas carol.  [Schiller Institute Chorus sings Adeste Fideles]

Thank you so much.  As we conclude today’s memorial and commemorative ceremony, again we want to thank the Schiller Institute Choir, we want to thank the City of Bayonne, New Jersey Fire Department for all they gave us here in hosting this event, and we ask those of you with the white roses to please, as you can, step forward to the Tear-Drop Memorial and place it for all those that we have lost and for the hope we have in the world as we continue in their honor.

Thank you so much.

DIANE SARE:  And, I wish to thank Lt. Tony Giorgio and the New York City Police Department Ceremonial Unit for all you have done.

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