They gathered to remember

By SUSAN WADE
Posted 9/15/20

ELDRED, NY — The day was full of brilliant sunshine, reminiscent of that same day 19 years ago. And folks gathered to remember how a day so full of promise quickly turned into one so horrific …

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They gathered to remember

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ELDRED, NY — The day was full of brilliant sunshine, reminiscent of that same day 19 years ago. And folks gathered to remember how a day so full of promise quickly turned into one so horrific and so unanticipated. 

Of course, that was September 11, 2001. At Heroes Park in Eldred, about 75 townsfolk gathered, putting aside political differences in a manner also reminiscent of the unity that arose from the horrors of that day to keep their vow to “never forget.” 

Town of Highland Supervisor Jeff Haas emceed the solemn and poignant ceremony. In his opening remarks, he reminded those gathered of the more than 3,000 lives lost that day and that countless continue to battle 9/11-related illnesses and disabilities. Said he, “Our lives as New Yorkers and as Americans were forever changed on that day and it is my hope that we will keep all of those impacted in our thoughts today.”

Lacey Gutekunst sang an acapella rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Acting District Attorney Meagan Galligan gave a moving address in which she thanked emergency first responders, especially firefighters, stating that 83% of all emergency personnel who died on 9/11 were firefighters in what became the single deadliest incident for firefighters in the nation’s history. She told the story of Peter Ganci, who started his firefighting career as a volunteer in Farmingdale, Long Island and ultimately worked his way up to hold the highest uniformed rank in the entire FDNY. Ganci died in the collapse of the North Tower, refusing to leave the command post he’d set up there, even after he sent the mayor and others to safety because his men were inside. Said Galligan, “Chief Ganci didn’t view himself as any different from any of the other 342 firefighters who died that day; that he was a member of the same community and shared the same values of courage and unity in the face of unthinkable horror as each of his men who died with him.” She challenged all “to honor that integrity by demonstrating our own.”

A wreath was laid at the foot of the monument on which sits a piece of steel from the Ground Zero site. The chiefs of the Yulan, Highland Lake and Lumberland fire stations and the American Legion Ambulance Service represented their respective volunteer departments. 

Following the wreath-laying, the benediction was pronounced by Rev. Nancy Vonderhorst of the Pond Eddy United Methodist Church. In her prayer, she quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14 which states “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Following the benediction, those gathered joined in the singing of “God Bless America.” 

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