By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
This Thursday, we gather to remember and pay tribute to the 3,000 men, women, and children – 81 of them from Rockland County – who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001 and February 26th, 1993.
We gather to honor the courage and resolve of their families who demonstrate that courage every day.
And, we also gather with unity of purpose – a unity of purpose that comes from knowing what we have, seeing the kindness we have for one another, to turn our shock into action, to turn our sorrow into strength and to turn our mourning into resolve.
I remember so vividly the deep, blue sky that day, without a single cloud, getting ready to head to work in the City. Then, we all watched in horror as 19 men armed with box cutters took control of airplanes and turned them into missiles. We watched the twin towers collapse before our eyes.
I 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 killed that day – 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 remember the feeling of dread. I remember a boiling anger that still rises up in each of us thirteen years later.
But, I remember something else as well. I remember the days after the attacks, when we gathered in our homes, churches and temples, where we celebrated in times of joy and triumph. We came together in that time of sorrow and disbelief to pledge that we would never allow our freedoms to be conquered. And, we would never allow fear to conquer us. We promised ourselves that we would never allow our goodness to be conquered by hate and evil.
On September 11th, 2001, we told one another that we would never forget – that we would never fall victim to another attack on our homeland. And, so far, we haven’t. For this, I thank our brave military, law enforcement personnel and a vigilant citizenry. But, after hearing President Obama’s plan last night to combat ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq, it’s only natural to wonder if history could repeat itself.
Our nation is facing new enemies and we must adjust to new threats. We must find the terrorists hiding in America and across the globe before they strike our country again. We’re fighting for a peaceful future for our children and our grandchildren. As a military dad, I know the stakes are high, both here and overseas. This is why we must never forget!
The story of the resilience of September 11, 2001 – the bravery, the remembrance, the renewal and what we choose to do with it – is a story we still write today. It’s a needed story, especially as we engage in a new global struggle.
They say darkness is the great canvas against which beauty becomes visible. There was lot of beauty made visible on that tragic day thirteen years ago. The beauty that is the dignity of every individual. The beauty of our own responsibility to be able to advance and protect the greater good. The beauty of knowing that we’re all in this together.
As we mark this anniversary, let us remember not only the agony of the attacks, but how we channeled our pain into something positive and powerful. Let us remember not only how the Towers fell, but how we rose up – determined to defend our freedoms. Let us remember to always expect the unexpected. And, whether it be during war or peacetime, let us remember that when we unite, there is no challenge that Americans can’t meet.
May God bless America.