By Sharon E. Siegel
TOWN OF DEERPARK, NY -- Dignitaries from the Town of Deerpark, nearby communities, and Orange County addressed those in attendance at the Town of Deerpark’s 21st Memorial Tribute to September 11th victims. The solemn anniversary remembrance was hosted by the Town of Deerpark and its Town Board as part of its pledge to always remember.
Welcomed by Town Supervisor Gary Spears, this year’s memorial event had two flags flying that were flown at the World Trade Center site. One was an American Flag and the other a World Trade Center Site Flag.
Following the remarks by dignitaries, three additional speakers stepped up to a podium in response to an invitation to pay tribute and share thoughts. The three were among dozens who attended the rainy, Sunday morning – September 11, 2022 event. All were there to pay tribute to and remember the victims and heroes of the attack on America 21-years ago today.
Retired New York City Firefighter Joe Rennish, who has remained an active volunteer firefighter locally, was first to speak from the public. Rennish has many memories of the tragedy, and has tearfully spoken in the past. Rennish served in careers both as a NYC Police Officer and as NYC Firefighter. While a NYC firefighter, Rennish himself trained many of the young firefighter ‘probies’ who perished in 2001.
Rennish concluded his heartfelt remarks by calling for an official 9-11 memorial holiday, similar to that for Pearl Harbor Day. He cited the thousands who died on 9-11-2001 and others who continue to die from health effects to this day.
The second speaker (unfortunately his name not caught) spoke about the passengers (turned immediate heroes) on United Airlines Flight 93 during that 2001 tragic day. This plane crashed in Shanksville, PA, killing all aboard. The gentleman recalled stories shared of passengers who called home to their loved ones and then took the incredible and united fatal action of trying to regain control of the plane’s path from four terrorist hijackers. They hoped to land the plane safely, after taking out the terrorists, but instead gave their lives in preventing this additional planned terrorist strike.
The third speaker was retired NYC Firefighter Chris Edwards. Edwards shared personal remembrances of the day and heroic actions that followed. He urged everyone, especially children and young Americans, to not only remember the tragic, bad things that happened that day but to remember the greatness, kindnesses, and unity followed.
The names of active-duty local servicemen and women were read by retired U.S. Magistrate Mark D. Fox. Music was provided by The Broome Street Band, Port Jervis High School music students, and local vocalist Catherine Westfall.
Deerpark Town Clerk Flo Santini, who has steadfastly organized and guided this memorial event annually – she stressed with full support and help from her town and community -- said she is grateful each year for all who turn out and stand together in remembrance.
“This was a very nice crowd and turnout on a rainy day, and being on a Sunday with Mass going on and so many other things,” Santini said. “I’m just glad for anyone who does come out to this memorial, and such a great turnout by fire, police, veterans, and everyday citizens. We will never forget and will always have this memorial going.”
Dozens of police, fire, and other emergency responders were on hand, as were school students and officials from both Delaware Valley and Port Jervis School Districts, and many others who gathered to remember together.
Santini said after everyone had left, she had a chance for a private moment. She found herself glancing toward the sky and, as always, reaffirmed her own personal promise to never forget.
"Never. For as a long as I live," she said.
Port Jervis High School musicians at Town of Deerpark 9-11 Memorial 9-11-2022