John Danowski Delivers Stirring Remarks at LIMLF 9/11 Memorial Rededication


John Danowski said it was the first speech he has ever written before delivering it.

The Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation added eight names to the Long Island Lacrosse 9/11 Memorial in a rededication ceremony held last Saturday at Farmingdale State University.

With the generosity of the lacrosse community in the tri-state region, the LIMLF, a chapter of USA Lacrosse, raised more than $25,000 to add to the memorial three individuals (John Swaine, John Vigiano and Joseph Vigiano) who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and five first responders (Robert L. Burns, Kevin C. Miller, Kevin D. Nuckel, Matt Perlungher and Michael Romano) who have since died of 9/11-related illnesses.

The LIMLF also updated the memorial with new lighting and benches, memorial bricks, benches and a bolt from the World Trade Center.

Danowski was the guest speaker. These are his words, followed by photos from the rededication ceremony.

GOOD AFTERNOON, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. My name is John Danowski. I currently serve as the head men’s lacrosse coach at Duke University. It is also my honor to serve as the head coach of the United States men’s national team.

While I currently reside in Durham, North Carolina, I am a proud third-generation Long Islander by way of Riverhead, East Meadow and Farmingdale, although you probably cannot tell by my southern accent.

I would like to thank the Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Foundation for allowing me to participate in today’s memorial. Together, we celebrate the lives of those we love and have left us way too soon. Their extraordinary legacies live on through their families, friends who are present today and all those they have touched.

It is not lost on any of us, the unique singular force that is so strong, that compels us to be here — namely our game, lacrosse. Today it unites us. We are all one.

If it is one thing that I have experienced time and again, it is this: Anyone I have ever met that is connected with the game — coach, player, manager, fan — shares something so special that transcends all other sports. The game does not let you down. The people do not let you down, especially those of you whose roots grow deep in the soil of the place we call home, Long Island — in villages like Levittown, Garden City, West Islip and Hicksville, to name just a few.

The core values that our parents lived by and our coaches reinforced in us — teamwork, discipline, loyalty, dedication — are the traits that can be found in the men we honor today. The game has given us more than we can comprehend, the greatest of which are the relationships that help define who we are. Our teammates from junior high who remain our friends years later. Our opponents who became our brothers. Our coaches who were father figures, who made us believe in ourselves and each other.

We live in a unique period in the United States. So much discord — red state, blue state, to mask or not to mask, to vaccinate or not, fake news, the storming of the capitol, global warming. The news is difficult to watch. Anger and vitriol dominate the airwaves and print media.

But not here. Not today.

This gathering represents the best of our society. Today, we are one family. This is as close to a lacrosse locker room as you can get. For me, the locker room has always been a sanctuary where everyone is equal. Everyone matters. Where a common vision trumps all. The color of your skin, your political affiliation and religious beliefs take a backseat to a shared goal. The locker room is a place to celebrate victories and mourn losses, a place where tears of joy and tears of sorrow are allowed to flow freely without judgment. It is a place of unity and purpose.

The Native Americans believe that lacrosse was a gift. A vehicle for healing. The Creator’s Game. Those who took part did so in the role of warriors with the goal of bringing glory and honor to themselves and their tribes. The Creator’s roster has added eight new teammates.

Friends, I am incredibly proud to stand with you in the shadow of this wonderful memorial today. We deeply believe in the value of the lives that these eight men and the manner in which they represented themselves, their families, their country. We are now challenged to live our lives, to hold ourselves and each other to the standards that they have set before us.  We must accept the challenge that these men so modeled. In doing so, we are reminded, we are not alone. The lacrosse community is with you. They will not let you down. You are never alone.

We must continue to live our lives with a moral compass that is pointed true north. We must not waver during times of adversity. The foundation of our strength is built on those who have sacrificed their lives for us. We must be there for our neighbors as these men were there for us. Anything less would be unacceptable. This is non-negotiable. We have no other options.

God bless these men. May their accomplishments provide a roadmap for future generations of lacrosse players young and old, male and female, to live a life of unquestioned character and service to honor the lives of the men we are here to celebrate today.

I would like to leave you with a quote from Greg DeLuca, Duke University Class of 2013, Navy SEAL, father and lacrosse player.

“It is not what we choose to do that differs us from normal men. Rather, it is what we choose NOT to do when we have the power to do anything that separates us from others.”

God bless all of you.

God bless the United States of America.

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