HALFMOON— We all remember where we were on September 11, 2001, when we discovered the devastating news that our country was being attacked; the World Trade Center towers crumbled and disintegrated along with our faith in humanity. Some of us were in elementary school classrooms watching the smoking towers on the television screen, which had been turned on by our teachers; others were going about their daily routine at work; in the waiting room of a doctor’s office; listening to the radio while driving in the car; or even stopping for a cup of coffee.
“None of us will ever forget where we were or what we were doing on that terrible day,” Senator Kathy Marchione said. “I myself, I remember, needed to go to the hospital for some blood work that morning so I didn’t get to have a cup of coffee, so I pulled into a Dunkin Donuts in time to see the plane hit the tower, and for a moment it seemed as though it couldn’t be real. Then I realized it was real and it was awful.”
“All of those stories are compelling in their own way because they each convey a sense of grief and shock over what happened that day,” Ryan Horstmyer, who spoke on behalf of Congressman Tonko, said. “And many, if not all, of those stories also contain gratitude and resolve; resolve to continue on our way of life as Americans, as a free and democratic society, and gratitude for the men and women in uniform who allow us continue with that life.”
It was a day where we as Americans had to face the mortal fragility of life, the grim reality of death and the perversion of people to inflict unspeakable sins. Despite this, evil did not prevail that day; instead, our country as a whole sprang into action.
Years later we still mourn the loss, remember the valor and give thanks to those who impacted our country impermeably and forever.
The early evening air smelled sweet like fresh cut grass and every fold-out chair was filled at Abele Memorial Park during the Town of Halfmoon’s 9/11 Memorial Ceremony last Friday.
“On this day fourteen years ago, the landscape of the United States changed,” Town of Halfmoon Supervisor Kevin Tollisen said. “Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, a plane crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania; all literally within minutes of each other. It was a day when our nation was to be tested to the limit, a day when thousands of innocents of all nationalities and ethnicities lost their lives, a day that tested our character, the very fabric of what America was made of. On that day, we found out that our nation, which was founded upon God was strong…where regular people became heroes; men women and children in the face of danger showed bravery and courage. Passengers, in the face of their own death, in a bold move of determination to save American’s lives took on their aggressors.”
“It was a day of sadness, madness and darkness, it was also a day of courage, bravery, sacrifice and selflessness,” Marchione said. “The courage of the New York City first responders, who ran into burning buildings when our first impulse would have been to run away; the bravery of the workers at the Pentagon, who rushed to put out flames and help their wounded colleagues; the sacrifice of the heroes aboard Flight 93, who took back their plane from a terrorist hijacking, saving countless lives in our nation’s capital in the process; and the selflessness of rescue workers, who rushed to the scene of the fallen towers with no regard for their own personal safety and wellbeing.”
She continued: “This Halfmoon memorial [turned and gestured with her hand] stands as a testament to those qualities. It is a legacy to all that we lost that day and it is a reminder of all that we have, that we live in the freest, greatest nation in the world because of the courage, the bravery, the sacrifice and the selflessness of our fellow citizens.”
The day prior to 9/11, a rainbow arose from the newly constructed World Trade Center—the Freedom Tower; the colors arched across the entire island of Manhattan. A stunning cosmic symbol that there is hope even after the most treacherous circumstances.
As the ceremony came to a close a woman stood before the crowd and sang a familiar tune: God Bless America. Everyone in attendance joined in and voices both large and small, on and off key came together in unison and echoed throughout Abele Memorial Park with such feeling that it seemed as though they really could reach across mountains, prairies and even the oceans white with foam.
“God Bless America,” they sang. “My home sweet home.”