Orange County remembers

14 Sep 2017 | 02:14

By Julia Ramirez
— The Orange County community gathered Monday evening at Thomas Bull Memorial Park for the annual September 11th Remembrance Ceremony.
Families of victims, survivors and guests were greeted by the Presentation of Colors procession, including members from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, United States Air Force (NYANG 105th), Post 2064 Maybrook Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Orange County volunteer fire companies.
A solemn quietness came over the audience as politicians and members of the United States military gave their remarks about September 11, 2001.
They took time to recognize the accomplishments of the first-responders and the community as they came together on that tragic day.
State Sen. John J. Bonacic asked the audience to remember the lives of those who passed away by acknowledging the lives of those spared.
“Twenty-five thousand lives were saved because of the sacrifices of our heroes,” he said. “When those who lost their lives look down, they smile on those 25,000 people [and their accomplishments] and say ‘well done, well done’.”
Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus spoke about a young woman he met at a recent graduation ceremony.
“After I spoke, she came up to me and asked if she could give me a hug and kiss,” Neuhaus said. “She recognized I was a member of the military and told me she lost her father, a fire chief of FDNY, on 9/11. She thanked me and was grateful for our military and first-responders.”
Following the remarks, the names of the 44 members of Orange County who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, were read by James W. Taylor and William J. Bratton Jr. of Families of September 11th.
A bell toll rang out after each name was read.
Audience members listened as the ceremony came to a close with a gun salute by the Post V.F.W. of Maybrook, followed by performances of “Amazing Grace” by Michael A. Tully, Pipe Major of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and “God Bless America” by Army Master Sergeant MaryKay Messenger.
After the ceremony, the community had time to reflect over refreshments provided by ShopRite and music by the Otisville Brass Quintet.
Ella Mae Hedgepeth of Winterton, said she attends the ceremony every year and expressed her concerns living in a Post-9/11 America.
“My son-in-law was a first-responder and had to retire at 37 years old,” she said, largely due to smoke and dust exposure from the attack.
Billy Ferrara of Bullville is a retired FDNY firefighter. He remembers the sights and sounds of 9/11, but is drawn to a silver-lining.
“That day was impressive,” he said, “because of how people put their everyday views aside to help. Everyone forgot about things like politics and religion and came together that day.”