On Monday evening, under a crystal clear blue sky, Town of Lloyd officials, Ulster County and NY State representatives and local residents gathered in front of the firehouse on Milton Avenue to remember the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and to honor the memory of 2,996 individuals who were lost on that fateful day.
Supervisor Paul Hansut welcomed everyone to the solemn ceremony that the Town of Lloyd holds every year.
To open the ceremony members of Boy Scout Troops 70 and 193, Cub Scout Troop 70 and Girl Scouts led in the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the National Anthem sung by Jessica Avampato. Leo Bozydaj then released a flock of white doves as symbols of peace.
Fr. John Lynch, of St. Augustine Church, offered an invocation.
“We pray for justice, healing and peace for everyone throughout the world who suffer from violence, discrimination and other offenses against human dignity,” he said. “God of perfect peace; violence and cruelty have no part in you. May those who are at peace with one another hold fast to the good will that unites them. May those who are enemies forget their hatred and be healed.”
County Executive Mike Hein said “it is hard to imagine that so many years have passed and I remember when I close my eyes like it was yesterday, seeing the news reports, seeing the sparkling blue sky, seeing planes drive into the center of New York City and crash into the Twin Towers.” He said when the reports of the other planes were broadcast “it became clear that it was so much more than an accident; this was terrorism on our shores.”
Hein said after that day everyone’s life was changed and those who were killed would “never dance at their daughter’s wedding and how many of those victims didn’t get to hold their grandchildren and how many of these victims didn’t get the privilege of growing old with the person they love.”
Hein acknowledged that it is hard to forgive, especially here in the Northeast where “we all know someone or are related to someone who was injured or killed in the attacks and had their entire existence turned upside down.”
Hein said the First Responders showed the best of humanity and risked or gave their lives “all in an effort to simply help someone they had never met. There is an incredible beauty in that.”
Hein said as Americans gather at 9/11 ceremonies across the nation “I hope what is coming is a nation that pulls together and understands the humanity that we all share, that respects one another and remembers 9/11 for what it was- a true assault on our country [and] an opportunity for terrorist groups to try to break our spirit. But the truth is every time this has ever happened in the course of our history, America has stood tall. The American spirit cannot be broken; yes our hearts can be broken, yes we can remember those who sacrificed so much, but day in and day out I ask that you remember that all of us get the privilege of living in the greatest nation that has ever existed in human history. It’s a spectacular place built on freedom and built on humanity. So as each and every one of you remember 9/11 in your own personal way, as your County Executive of this amazing and patriotic place, I say thank you for being here…and to each and every one of you I wish you peace and a future in which we can truly forgive and move forward and remember how blessed we truly are.”
NYS Assembly Frank Skartados said each year we honor the victims and heroes of 9/11.
“Thank you Town of Lloyd for keeping the eternal flame alive for us and for future generations,” he said, calling 9/11 “this generation’s Pearl Harbor.”
Skartados said 9/11 marked a new age of terror “that forever changed our sense of security and our sense of vulnerability. America will never be the same again.” He added that although terrorists may have brought down “our most valued wonders of the world, they cannot destroy our spirit, our sense of righteousness, our commitment to our democratic values and our responsibility as the leading democracy of the world. So today we pray for our angels in heaven and stand united and defiant against all those who wish us harm.”
NYS Sen. George Amedore said the “backbone” of any community is the men and women who have served in the military, in law enforcement, in the court system or in the fire and emergency services who all have made it possible for Americans to live in freedom and security.
“We will never forget what happened on 9/11 with the terrorist attack of what an enemy was trying to take away from we the people of this blessed nation. But we also should never forget the sacrifice, the dedication, the hard work and the selfless hours that these fine men and women of our fire, police and emergency services give to us on a daily basis,” Amedore said.
Peter Miller, Fire Chief of the Highland Hose Company No. 1, said it is important to remember those who are presently serving our country protecting our freedoms.
“The world is a mess. Terrible things man-made and natural are affecting people world-wide and because of this we must pull together as a people,” he said. “There was a 9/12 spirit that we felt after 9/11. The attitude of that day was everybody help each other, flags came out [and] we stood together, we stood united and we were Americans. We must do this again and continue to live and act in that manner daily.”
Police Chief Daniel Waage urged everyone to remember “the acts of heroism committed by Americans on that day and the days that followed because it is at times like this that the United States of America is in no short supply of heroes,” from office workers, firefighters and construction workers to the Police and even strangers who helped people trapped in the rubble. “These heroes did it because it was Americans helping Americans with no thought of race, creed, political preference, but that they were Americans.” He said this spirit is very much alive in our country today and occurs on a daily basis.
“It is at times like this that our heroes shine brightest; they are all around us,” he said.
Rev. Laurie McNeill, of the First Presbyterian Church of Highland, gave the Benediction.
“It is the human spirit that is represented here today that gives us hope,” she said. “I would remind us that it is the Holy Spirit that is here to advocate for us with God’s promise that our lives are precious and are held as sacred. You are God’s men and are God’s women; you are loved and you are forgiven, therefore let us go from this place in love and with the peace of God.”
Supervisor Hansut concluded the ceremony.
“Every year I wonder who is going to show up, who truly remembers 9/11 and every year as I stand here and look out into the crowd I am thrilled to see that we have our community who come out because here in Lloyd we will always remember,” he said.
The singing of God Bless America was followed by a 21 gun salute. The sounding of Taps was played by ‘Buglers Across America’ Joseph Avampato and Peter Maroldt.
By Mark Reynolds