Remembering Sept. 11

“This was not the ceremony I planned,” said Sonny Solitto, organizer of the September 11 remembrance on Sunday.

The ceremony was conducted at the Veterans Memorial Park under an intermittent shower. Though it was cut short, it was attended by some 75 people, who remained under umbrellas for much of the ceremony.

Solitto, a past chief of the Centerville-Cedar Grove Fire Department, said that “everyone has a memory of where we were when the attacks took place. We feel the shared pain, and we stand together against our attackers.”

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The ceremony “is a tribute to the living and the dead from the attack,” he added.

Solitto brought with him a poem that reflected on the attack. He could not recall the poet’s name, though he remembered her writing it and giving it to him. The poem, read by Chris Balwin of the Ladies Auxiliary Fire Department, describes the unity that Americans felt in the wake of the attack, with lines beginning with the words, “we became one.”

Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel quoted Woodrow Wilson: “they set their mark by duty.” This was a reference to the “men and women in fire, police, EMT and related services,” he added.

Gaetana Ciarlante of Operation SOS, an organization that raises donations for American troops, sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and later addressed the group. She said remembrances such as the one on Sunday are needed “to teach our children about these events.”

In the early days, fire departments would communicate via telegraph, Solitto said. The signal when a firefighter fell – five dots, followed by a space, then another five dots, and so on, was known as “the tolling of the bells.” Solitto said. In memory of the many firefighters, police officers, rescue workers and volunteers who fell at the World Trade Center, firefighter Christina Butta of the Centerville Fire District then rang a bell in the sequence for a downed firefighter.

Rain, which delayed the start of the ceremony, returned to cut it short. Some members of the audience went to HITS, where a special program for the day was held.

Considering the rain, Solitto said, the turnout was good, with fire companies from Malden, Saxton, Saugerties, Mount Marion, Glasco, Centerville-Cedar Grove and Diaz Ambulance represented. He thanked the town Parks and Recreation Department for its help in setting up for the event.

Following the ceremony, Solitto said he was disappointed with the weather as he had more to say about the day and its meaning. He thanked the town Parks and Recreation Department for its help in setting up for the event.

Solitto said the turnout was good, with fire companies from Malden, Saxton, Saugerties, Mount Marion, Glasco, Centerville-Cedar Grove and Diaz Ambulance represented.

That evening, a gathering to commemorate the 9/11 attack and to raise money for hurricane damaged communities had to move into the Senior Citizens’ Center as rain threatened. The Rev. Terry O’Brien said about 100 people turned out, and some $500 in aid was raised, to be sent to the hardest-hit areas in the region. l

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