Despite the rainy weather, first responders from Columbia and Greene counties turned out to salute their own on the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks Tuesday.
Greene County Emergency Services hosted its seventh annual memorial service at the Greene County 911 Dispatch Center in Cairo. Columbia-Greene Community College held its 17th Remembrance Ceremony on Tuesday.
“We have it no matter the weather or what day of the week it is,” Greene County Legislator William Lawrence, R-Cairo, said about the Cairo service. “The crowd has been consistent over the years and is as enthusiastic as ever.”
The memorial is held for two reasons, Greene County Emergency Services Director John P. Farrell Jr. said.
“We take time to reflect on the law enforcement and firefighters who lost their lives in 9/11 and also to recognize those within our jurisdiction that died in the line of duty,” Farrell said.
More than 400 first responders from the area were serving in the line of duty on 9/11, said Pastor Joel Zimmerman of Bruderhof Community in Platte Clove.
“It’s really important to recognize all the first responders who gave their life for others,” Lawrence said. “They go into dangers with no fear for their own lives for the sake of public service.”
It’s important to carry on this tradition to shed light on the tragedy for a new, young generation that may not have experienced it first-hand, Lawrence said.
The Cairo service included speeches by Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, state Sen. George Amedore Jr., R-46, and Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione.
Lt. Adam Brainard of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office and Greene County Emergency Operations Dispatcher Neil Kellegher read the roll of honor, where the names of Greene County law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS providers who lost their lives while on active duty are inscribed.
As each name was read, Greene County Emergency Services Deputy Director Randy Ormerod rang a bell for each individual.
Zimmerman and Pastor Matthew Marlow, of Medway Congregational Christian Church, led the prayer service.
Greenville American Legion Post 291 fired the rifle salute and a color guard including members of the state police, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Cairo police, emergency medical services and a firefighter from New Baltimore did the flag presentation.
The Emerald Society Band performed and recordings by singer Laura Marriott of Durham were played because she was unable to attend the ceremony because of illness, Farrell said.
“It was fantastic,” Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley said of the Cairo service. “It needs to happen every year to support fallen heroes.”
Around 125 people attended the ceremony, Farrell said.
“All of us need to come together to never forget those that left us,” he said.COLUMBIA-GREENE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Tuesday’s ceremony at Columbia-Greene Community College in Greenport also featured a flag presentation, performed by the college Honor Guard, which includes student veterans and is led by Veterans Services Coordinator Kevin Kropp.
Devin Mateo is a member of the Honor Guard. He is a private first class in the U.S. Army.
Although he was 5 years old on 9/11, the attacks had a profound effect on Mateo.
“It made me want to go into the service,” he said. “It made people appreciate what everyone does for each other.”
The event was designed for faculty to share their memories of the tragedy.
“It’s a place to tell our stories ... big or small,” said Jaclyn Stevenson, the college’s director of public relations.
The faculty shared emotional accounts of how the tragedy affected them.
“The cause [of the attack] was fear and hate of others [who are] different,” Bellanger said.
“It [9/11] gave us a sense of camaraderie and brought the community together,” Stevenson said.
The ceremony was moved indoors to the Main Building Student Court because of rain.
College Vice President Joseph Watson, Student Sen. Amanda Dudley, Webmaster Coordinator Terry Bellanger, Stevenson, Professor of Transitional Studies Michael Phippen and President James Campion delievered speeches at the event.
About 50 students, faculty and community members attended, including student veterans, Stevenson said.
The faculty feels it’s important to give younger students a first-hand impression of what the tragedy meant to them, Campion said.
“A lot weren’t born yet ... our freshmen were 1 or 2,” Stevenson said.
“It [9/11] was a scarred entry in our nation’s diary,” Phippen said. “It was something we had never seen before and something we hope to never see again.”
The ceremony closed with a moment of silence and a ringing of bells to honor the area’s first responders who lost their lives Sept. 11, 2001.
“It’s a great tradition to keep the memory alive,” Campion said. “They were people just like us ... going to work, getting on a plane to go to a wedding, to take their kid somewhere or going on vacation.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Tuesday remembering the anniversary of the tragedy at the World Trade Center.
“If the attackers sought to somehow teach America a lesson in humility, they achieved the opposite result,” Cuomo said. “We were never prouder of being New Yorkers. In New York, we will always strive to carry on the legacy of these heroes and continue to serve as a beacon of freedom for the entire world.”
*Editor's note: This story corrects an earlier version that stated Joel Zimmerman is a pastor of Medway Congregational Christian Church. He is a pastor at Bruderhof Community in Platte Clove.