The 9/11 Commemoration Service was supposed to start at 7:30 Tuesday night, but the front rows reserved for the firefighters were empty.
strode to the pulpit of to explain the delay. Plainview firefighters had arrived at the church just as a call came in for help. Their beepers went off and they were gone.
"They had a run," said Olsen.
They had come to mourn fallen comrades and honor all those lost in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But that would have to wait. Someone needed them now. So, dressed in crisp "Class A" uniforms, the men and women of thedid what they always do:
Of all the heart-wrenching words and hopeful messages heard at Tuesday's tearful interfaith service, nothing was more eloquent than their unflinching answer to the call of duty.
Related: Long Island Remembers 9/11
The emergency resolved, they returned and walked in together, followed by a color guard of Boy Scouts bearing the Stars and Stripes. The service began just before 8.
Cantor Bradley Hyman's invocation left the congregation in stunned silenced. In the ancient melody of "Lamentations," Hyman chanted the final text messages sent by loved ones trapped in the burning Twin Towers:
"Mommy. I love you. I'm trapped....it doesn't look good," Hyman sang. "Live your life as full as you can. I love you."
And this one: "I made it to the 78th floor; I will stay here...to help these people."
A Plainview Fire Department captain recited a version of the 23rd Psalm, one used for fallen firefighters: "The Lord is my Chief. He has chosen me to serve. He leads me to still the fires raging around me. He restores my soul to fight even when all seems lost...."
Pastor Olsen read from The Gospel of Matthew: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted...."
Olsen told the congregation that his co-celebrant, Temple Chaverim's , told him the "real miracle of Sept. 11th was Sept. 12th."
"9/11 hurt you, wounded you and knocked you down," Olsen said. "...but we can live a Sept. 12th life even 11 years later."
The interfaith congregation stood for the National Anthem, sung in a cappella harmony by the . A firefighter in the front row flicked away a tear just as the young people sang "...And the home of the brave."
When it was over, the community and the firefighters stood outside the sanctuary, shook hands, exchanged words of thanks and went on their way.
Not 15 minutes later, distant sirens cut the stillness of the Plainview night.
They had another run.