'To live not in darkness' 9/11 ceremony at Arboretum offers message of hope amid danger
Family, survivors and friends who attended the Patriot Day Sept. 11 Remembrance Day at Orange County Arboretum in Montgomery. (Photo by Geri Corey)
By Geri Corey GOSHEN — “We must appreciate the freedoms we have,” state Senator William J. Larkin Jr. told an assemblage of families, survivors and caring residents who came to the Orange County Arboretum for the Patriot’s Day ceremony on Friday, Sept. 11.More than 200 spectators came out to remember and honor the 44 Orange County lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, and the 11 members in the Armed Forces who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terrorism.The early-evening ceremony began with a procession of honor guards from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police Troop F, United States Air Force, NYANG 105, and the Maybrook VFW Post 2064. They were followed by Orange County Sheriff Carl E. DuBois and the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Orange County, who led the families and survivors to their seats.Richard L. Rose Jr., Commissioner of the Orange County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Army Master Sergeant MaryKay Messenger of the U.S. Military Academy Band sang “The National Anthem” and “God Bless America.”Larkin, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, shed tears as he spoke of the letters that he wrote to families, telling them of a loved one's death in service to country.State Senator John J. Bonacic added his own thoughts.“We will never forget the forces of evil on 9/11 and the heroism of the emergency responders who saved thousands of lives that day," he said.He said the nation's enemies are getting more aggressive and world more dangerous. He asked onlookers to reflect on the courageous service personnel who went into harm’s way 14 years ago to save others.“We’ll remain the strongest country in the world," said Bonacic.Adding support was Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus.“There’s never a doubt that we’re going to get through our tough times," he said.'We grieve'The guest speaker, Colonel Steven Branche, Commander of Operations, U.S. Air Force 105 Airlift Wing, said everyone has a story because everyone was affected by that day, some more than others. He spoke of the unimaginable loss of 51 Orange County residents who died on that day.“We mourn, grieve, honor on this day in the spirit of solidarity of those not here today,” he said, encouraging all to continue to unite in remembrance of those who are gone. “Families feel strength in your support,” he said.As Memorial Benefactor, James W. Taylor, Jr., and William J. Bratton, representing the families, read each name of those being remembered. Orange County Department of Fire Services Deputy Commissioner Vini Tankasali and Deputy Fire Coordinator Matthew Thorpe tolled the bell.A gun salute, echoing "Taps," and an inspiring delivery of “Amazing Grace” by Michael A, Tully on the bagpipe brought the ceremony to a close.Pastor Peter A. Rustico of St. John’s Lutheran Church and retired Chaplin of the U.S. Naval Reserves, gave the concluding benediction.“We resolve never to forget," he said, "to live life in light, not in darkness and continue to see good in others."