Remembrance ceremonies are taking place throughout New York and elsewhere today, honoring the lives of those who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks 19 years ago. And for the first time, some remembrances are virtual because of COVID-19 safety concerns. A few Hudson Valley counties held their ceremonies this morning, while others will host evening ceremonies on what is now called Patriot Day.
That was to mark a moment of silence at 8:46 this morning, when the first plane hit the North Tower at the World Trade Center in Manhattan in 2001. The bell tolled again at 9:03 in memory of the attack on the South Tower. Family members read the names of those who died in the attacks.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day, a retired NYPD commander, spoke during the ceremony at Haverstraw Bay County Park, on a windy morning.
“Some even suggested that we not gather here today. That is a suggestion that I refuse to accept. The simple act of gathering together, reminding each other that we care, is too important to too many people. Instead, we have adapted to ensure the safety of those in attendance because we are still dealing with the heinous wounds inflicted by the attacks that day. And these moments of togetherness are necessary to help us all process the effects the changes these 19 years have brought,” Day says. “We must continue to stand by those who lost loved ones on that day and those who have since passed.”
The comment string that accompanies the ceremony on Rockland County’s Facebook page is full of emoji hearts, emoji thanks and the words “Never forget.”
Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco has been the emcee since Rockland’s first such ceremony in 2004.
“On September the 11th, 2001, 83 with ties to Rockland County perished. We must, and will never ever forget,” Falco says. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have already placed flowers by each of your loved one’s names.”
Dutchess County held its memorial service this morning. County Executive Marc Molinaro posted remarks on the county’s Facebook page.
“On this day, we recognize and thank those who, after witnessing acts of pure, violent evil, made the decision to join a fire department, a police agency or the military. We recognize, remember and cherish those whose sacrifices continue to protect us to this very day,” Molinaro says. “And while we may not be able to stand literally shoulder to shoulder during these times of physical separation, we stand with and support the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting their community, and salute their sacrifice and bravery on our behalf. No, we shall never forget.”
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, of the 18th District, attended the ceremony in Dutchess and plans to attend the one in Orange County this evening. Former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton will be the keynote speaker at the 6 p.m. ceremony at the Orange County Arboretum at Thomas Bull Memorial Park. Bratton and his wife Mary lost their 23-year-old daughter, Michelle Renee Bratton, in the attacks. She was a graduate of Pine Bush High School. The couple created the Michelle Renee Bratton Memorial Scholarship Fund through the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan in 2002. Michelle Renee Bratton’s name will be read during Westchester County’s ceremony, at Kensico Dam Plaza, at the 9/11 memorial “The Rising.” Westchester County Executive George Latimer says some family members will be in-person, and county officials will read the names of the 123 residents who died on 9/11.
“We all experienced 9/11 up close and personal in this area. We all had friends, not all of us, but many of us, I certainly did, have friends, people I knew from my home community. A person who I worked with in this building when I was in the legislature, who I saw every day, died that day on 9/11,” Latimer says. “So it’s something where I think we want to make sure that we remember and we never forget.”
The ceremony will be livestreamed. In addition to reading names of those who died in the attacks, family members will read the names of 32 residents who died from 9/11-related illnesses since the attacks. Their names will be added to the 9/11 Related Illness Memorial, announced by Latimer last year, that will accompany “The Rising” once it is complete. Congresswoman Nita Lowey will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. A wreath will be laid on the “Beam of Remembrance” — a steel beam that was pulled from the ashes of the World Trade Center.
Back in Rockland County this morning, bells also tolled in remembrance of the attack on the Pentagon, the crash of Flight 93 into Shanksville, PA, the collapse of the North and South Towers at the World Trade Center, those who continue to suffer from 9-11 related illnesses, service members and victims of the first bombing at the World Trade Center in 1993.