By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
Fourteen years ago this week, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists hijacked four jetliners departing Boston, Newark, New Jersey and Washington DC. In the surreal hours that followed, we all watched helplessly as those aircraft were turned into missiles. We watched the Twin Towers collapse. We watched The Pentagon burn. We watched United Flight 93 crash in a Pennsylvania field after its passengers and crew fought the hijackers, thwarting another attack on our government.
The indelible images of chaos and disaster are seared into our brains: the planes hitting the towers, the fire and smoke, the twisted beams and the ash-covered survivors – images that make fourteen years seem like moments.
It was an unthinkable act that sent waves of shock and grief across our county, our nation and around the globe. It led us into a war on two fronts, and a broader global struggle to uproot the brutal ideology and religious fanaticism that breed terror.
Nearly three thousand people were killed that day by militant Islamic terrorists. Eighty of them called Rockland County home. They were our parents, our spouses, our siblings, our children. They were our co-workers, our neighbors and our friends.
We all remember learning the names of the 343 members of the FDNY, 23 members of the NYPD, and the 37 members of the Port Authority Police Department who died on September 11th – men and women of bravery and selflessness, some of whom I walked the beat with during my two decades in the city’s police department.
I believe September 11th is a perpetual reminder to us all – a reminder that everyone in our life is precious, that every moment together is cause for celebration.
In the end, the best measure of a fulfilling and rewarding life is how we make a difference in the lives of other people. Every person lost in the terrorist attacks made a tremendous difference in the lives of others. They live on through their children, their grandchildren, their spouses, parents, brothers, sisters and friends. They live on through the contributions they made through their work, and through their good deeds for others in Rockland County and beyond.
We will never forget them.
On this anniversary, I call upon all local residents to join in service to honor the people we lost, the everyday heroes who responded and the brave men and women in uniform who continue to protect our nation at home and abroad.
Let’s work together with our local nonprofit groups and support agencies to usher in a new era in which volunteering and community service become the norm for all residents, young and old. Let us continue to show the world that – in our everyday lives – terror cannot diminish our tolerance. And, hate cannot not defeat our hope.
May God bless America.