By Kathy Kahn
19 years have passed since the terrorist attack, though it probably feels like yesterday to those who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center on September 11.
The Freedom Tower, overlooking the National September 11 Memorial, stood silent guard as voices of family members reading the names of those whose lives were lost. Unlike years prior, names were read over the airwaves at Ground Zero. The 2020 Pandemic has changed the dynamics of how we now mourn, both as individuals and collectively as a community: many memorials, including the one in New York City, were held via ZOOM due to continuing CoV-19 concerns.
Locally, many towns and villages took a more hands-on approach, holding their ceremonies publicly and asking attendees to take appropriate measures to limit risk of possible virus exposure.
In Stony Point, the memorial service last Friday evening honoring its six town residents who died in lower Manhattan on 9/11 was not diminished by social distancing or face coverings. Rather, it was a reminder that Americans have withstood much more than the country’s current condition and will likely to be called upon to withstand even more.
Residents, police, fire and ambulance department members turned out for the tribute. Bagpipes were played, people sang and prayed together and floral tributes were placed on the memorial in front of Town Hall to honor fallen neighbors. The poem Stony Point resident Joan Skinner read at the ceremony’s end is well worth sharing:
As the soot and dirt and ash rained down, we became One color.
As we carried each other down the stairs of the burning buildings, we became One class.
As we lit candles of waiting and hope, we became One generation.
As the firefighters and police officers fought their way into the interior, we became One gender.
As we gave our blood in many lines a mile long, we became One body,
As we mourned together in great loss, we became One family.
As we cried tears of grief and loss, we became One soul.
As we retell the pride the sacrifice of heroes, we became One people.
We are the power of One.
We are United.
We are America.
-Dr. Cheryl Sawyer
Sawyer’s poem is a poignant reminder of the unity and fortitude citizens of all colors, creeds and religions displayed in September 11’s aftermath, a spirit sorely missed in the current economic and social crises upending the country.