BY JANIE ROSMAN
Prior to the memorial service at Haverstraw Bay County Park this morning, Rockland County Executive Ed Day shared personal thoughts about tragic day..
“Everybody knows the answer to ‘Where were you on 9/11,’” Day said, his expression somber. “This is our local day of infamy. What I take most pride in is that this county, this country, this community took that and turned it into a renewed sense of belief, a sense of patriotism.”
Two of his son’s were in high school at the time and both have served the United State; one is still in (Army) Special Forces. That day is personal to him, he said. “Having been close to this with law enforcement, friends who didn’t make it, a future nephew who didn’t make it, it’s painful. You reflect a lot and hope in the future.”
The service began with the Rockland County Police Emerald Society playing the bagpipes as the Sheriff’s Department Honor Color Guard carried the American flag. After a moment of reflection, Cantor Sally Neff sang our national anthem.
Chaplain David Lothrop addressed attendees.
“Today is truly a day of remembrance for every family member and friends of the family,” he said. ‘Today we come to remember our loved ones, today and every day, for every day is a day of remembrance.”
In May we celebrate Memorial Day for men and women who sacrificed their lives so we can the freedom we richly enjoy, Lothrop said. “On this day, September 11, known as Patriot Day, we come to remember the innocent lives that were taken from us by. I come to promise each and every one of you that we will always remember your loved ones.”
He said it becomes more important to remember as each year passes, and people pick up the pieces of their lives and the memories of those we lost. “Thank You for giving these family members the courage to go forward,” he said, praying also for those who became sick as a result of the 9/11 tragedies.
A bell rang at 8:46 a.m. in remembrance of the North Tower. “Rest in peace,” he said and introduced the county executive.
“Good morning everyone,” Day said. “We all watched in disbelief what happened that day, and these indelible images of chaos are seared into our brains, images that make 14 years ago seem like moments ago.”
Day noted those honored as well as those killed February 26, 1993 (a bomb was detonated in North Tower garage), “which is my personal moment.” Members of the Port Authority, police department, and fire department were some he walked the beat with during his two decades with the New York City police department.
September 11 should serve as a perpetual reminder to all, he said, that everyone in our life is precious, and every moment together is a cause for celebration. “I think it is especially fitting that today’s annual ceremony features children, who are our pride and joy and our future.”
A measure of a fulfilling life, he said, “is how we make a difference in the lives of other people.”
Those we lost “live on through their children, their grandchildren, their spouses, parents, brothers, sisters and friends. They live on through their work and through the good deeds they did for others in Rockland County and beyond. We will hold them always in our prayers and will never forget them.”
Let us look out for each other, he said, advising attendees to volunteer their time and help others through their deeds. “Let us continue to show the world that in our everyday lives, terror cannot diminish our tolerance, and hate can never defeat our hope.”
Legislative Vice Chair Jay Hood was there representing Chair Alden Wolfe.
“We here this morning as we are here every year to remember, to gather at this monument of twisted steel to memorialize those stolen from us in a twisted act of terrorism,” Hood said.
Loved ones run fingers through engraved names in the monument behind us to remember those lost. “What we will always truly remember are the people whose names we read aloud today,” he said. “We will return to this place each and every year of our lives, and we will say their names. We must, and we will always remember.”
The air was heavy with emotion as family members read the names of their loved ones and other who were lost that day. It was then 9:03 a.m. and a bell rang in memory of the South Tower. Family members continued reading names. Anne Pettus read an especially poignant poem, “When Tomorrow Starts Without Me,” and Neff sang “I Will Remember You.”
Rockland County Veterans Services Director Jerry Donnellan spoke of Vietnam veterans who continue to be afflicted with Agent Orange.
“That wall (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall) in those days was not different than the wall behind me, and now 14 years later, people are beginning to forget,” he said. He still sees people regularly in his office putting in claims for Agent Orange 51 years after the fact.
At the end of this month, the World Trade Center Health Program that’s been monitoring 33,000 people will end at the end of September, and the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund will end October 3, 2016. Donnellan encouraged people to contact their elected officials and urge that both programs be continued past their end dates.
The bell then rang five times, after which Day placed three roses at the base of the memorial for those lost in the airplane attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“As we leave this memorial, may we leave with a little more peace in our hearts, never to be silenced again,” Lothrop said as the ceremony closed with “God Bless America” sung by Julie Graifman and “Amazing Grace” played by the Rockland County Police Emerald Society.