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White Plains Family Of 9/11 Victim Encourages Unity At Memorial Service

Robert Hoffman reads a poem, "One."
Robert Hoffman reads a poem, "One." Video Credit: Brian Donnelly
White Plains Police Officer Tara Altamuro bows her head in prayer at the city's 9/11 ceremony.
White Plains Police Officer Tara Altamuro bows her head in prayer at the city's 9/11 ceremony. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
White Plains officials lay the wreath on the 9/11 memorial, and then White Plains Police Officer Tara Altamuro sang "God Bless America."
White Plains officials lay the wreath on the 9/11 memorial, and then White Plains Police Officer Tara Altamuro sang "God Bless America." Video Credit: Brian Donnelly
Robert Hoffman attended the 9/11 ceremony with his wife and two daughters.
Robert Hoffman attended the 9/11 ceremony with his wife and two daughters. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
White Plains Police Officer Tara Altamuro sings "God Bless America."
White Plains Police Officer Tara Altamuro sings "God Bless America." Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Mayor Thomas Roach, standing,  points to the Operation Freedom Flag that was provided by U.S. Army Sgt. William Segel and has been raised in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Mayor Thomas Roach, standing, points to the Operation Freedom Flag that was provided by U.S. Army Sgt. William Segel and has been raised in Afghanistan and Iraq. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Officials laid a wreath on the monument that bears the names of the six White Plains residents lost on Sept. 11, 2011.
Officials laid a wreath on the monument that bears the names of the six White Plains residents lost on Sept. 11, 2011. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Richard Hoffmann’s two young children never met their uncle, Joe Riverso, one of the six White Plains residents who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

On the 13th anniversary of 9/11 Thursday, Hoffmann stood next to the monument at Liberty Park that bears his brother-in-law’s name. He read a poem, with his oldest daughter at his side, titled “One” in memory of that day and the sense of unity that was born out of tragedy.

“We are the power of one. We are united. We are America,” the poem concludes.

Hoffmann, who fought through the pain of remembrance to finish reading the poem, said it is important that those born after 9/11 understand the impact it had on the nation, as well as those who lost loved ones.

“It put the family through a lot and now they’ll never fully recover,” he said of his wife’s family.

Riverso attended, and then coached football at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains. A foundation set up in his name awards scholarships to students at Stepinac and still draws more than one hundred to an annual golf outing, Hoffmann said.

“He left an imprint on the community,” he said of Riverso. “But, he was a quiet guy. He left a young daughter who is now a junior in college. So she had to grow up without a father.”

White Plains Police Officer Tara Altamuro sang the National Anthem to open the ceremony and, following the laying of the wreath on the monument, “God Bless America” to close the ceremony.

Mayor Thomas Roach said Liberty Park offers a tranquil, quiet space for remembrance each year on the anniversary of 9/11. He said anyone who grew up in the area can remember the sense of excitement when they got off the Metro-North train in Grand Central Terminal, because of the endless possibilities offered by New York City. But, after 9/11, he said the excitement was gone when he stepped on that train platform and that the city was silent.

Like Hoffman, however, Roach said we remain united and must continue to do so, especially a day after Presiden. Obama announced America’s strategy to destroy the terrorist organization called ISIS ravaging Iraq .

In addition to the ceremony, the city hosted a blood drive Tuesday to commemorate the 13th anniversary.

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