On the evening that the twin towers fell we met in Memorial Park under the lights of the softball field. Neighbors turned out for this vigil almost spontaneously – this was before social media and internet connections. This occurred by word of mouth in a close-knit community and by a deep human need to find solace in each other. It was not a long ceremony; we bowed our heads in prayer and we identified those we lost.
Our hearts broke as we said the names:
• Battalion Chief John Williamson
• Lieutenant Michael Fodor
• Lieutenant John Ginley
• Lieutenant Stephen Harrell
• Firefighter Bruce Van Hine
• Linda Gronlund
• Peter Mark Gyulavary
We tried to make sense of the events, the tragedy, the overwhelming feeling of violation and loss. When we left that evening in the cool September night it was with the understanding that our lives had been changed.
I recollect that moment because of the simple solidarity it represented. Over the many years, we return to remember, and in daily life, we have witnessed the ripples of the aftermath of that day. We have over time seen the grief of families directly affected, we have said goodbye to our young men and women deployed to foreign soil. We have watched the residual health effects of first responders now unfold. Although the towers are gone, the long shadow and mark they have left are indelible.
It has been through our solidarity as a community and Country and through the act of remembrance that we understand the significance and meaning of our role. Our inner strength is revealed by these acts that create a continuum that ensures that it is understood that no life has been lost in vain. So today and every day we send our love to the families so deeply affected through loss or illness, we offer our gratitude to the men and women who continue to keep us safe. How we respect our heroes, how they are remembered is an important part of how we shape our present and our future. It is what we tell our children and gives guidance to recognize the importance of honoring the fallen and the brave.
I was reminded recently by a resident who was present at the vigil the night of September 11th of the last words I spoke to end the evening, maybe made more poignant as I was carrying my one-year-old son and that was, “God bless our Country, God Bless our Warwick.”
The next Village Board meeting will take place September 16, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall, 77 Main Street.