Across the country, ceremonies commemorated the tragic events of September 11, 2001, when two hijacked airplanes struck the World Trade Center in New York, and a third plane was forced down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all on board. The airplane was believed to be headed for Washington, DC to be flown into a government building, possibly the Pentagon.
The 9/11 ceremony in Saugerties honored the many services – firefighters, ambulance corps, emergency medical technicians and police who braved the fires, chemicals and smoke to rescue as many people as possible. Several hundred members of the police and fire departments from the town and village turned out, along with more than 50 spectators at the monument in the Cantine Veterans Memorial Complex.
State Police Lieutenant Colonel Robert Nuzzo gave the keynote address.
“We are gathered here today, as we have gathered for the last 17 years, to remember those who died tragically because they were living their lives in the ideals of the founding fathers, in their mindset, how they felt we should be living our lives. For those of us who are old enough, we remember where we were and what we were doing [when the hijacked airplanes flew into the buildings].”
For the many young people who were born after the attack, “you need to know what happened that day and the immediate aftermath,” Nuzzo said. “With all the bad that happened, an incredible amount of good came of it. People worked together for the common good and the common safety of all Americans and everyone put their petty differences aside.”
However, as the years have passed, people “forget about it [the September 11 attack]. Seventeen years later, today, schools go without a moment of silence. It’s almost as if it didn’t happen, and it should never be forgotten.
“I talk about the cooperation that went on between everybody. You see that on a daily basis here in Ulster County, in the police services, the fire and EMS, but ordinary citizens also helped out, stepped up and gave support to those services in an incredible way.
“Some of that support has waned as people have forgotten what happened on that day. Three thousand people died … Hundreds of firemen, dozens of policemen rushed into those burning towers to help people that they didn’t even know because it was their chosen line of duty. And even worse, people are dying today as a result of the diseases that they have as a result of being on that pile down in New York City. We’re losing people still to this day.”
Nuzzo urged the attendees to remember the 3,000 victims, and to keep remembering the events of September 11, 2001.
“We definitely lived in a different world before September 11, 2001, and I wish we could all return to that time before our innocence was lost. But we cannot ignore those threats. I encourage you, the town of Saugerties, for doing an incredible job of remembering this day. Too many communities have gone about their business today and forgotten about it.”
The ceremony included placement of a wreath near the monument, the tolling of a bell to remember the victims, and firing of a salute. Taps signaled the conclusion of the ceremony. Bagpipers Peigi Mulligan and John Noonan played “Amazing Grace.”
Fire Department Chaplain Jim Gage said, in his closing benediction, “heavenly father, with heads bowed in tribute to our fallen brothers and sisters in the firematic, police and emergency services, we bring this memorial service to a close. Before we part we pause to think of the families of those who perished that never to be forgotten day 17 years ago. For them we pray for continued strength and courage. At this moment we dedicate ourselves anew to our community and our country.”