ELDRED, NY — It began with the ringing of the town bell. The bell, former supervisor Andy Boyar said, has been rung in communities across the nation throughout time, indicating the call to gather, the call to duty, and the call to celebrate and honor.
The 6 p.m. ceremony, which has been held yearly in Heroes Park since its founding in 2011, called for community commitment to help neighbors, to set aside politics and to conduct ourselves, in all of our affairs, with integrity in all that we do. This, said keynote speaker Meagan Galligan, Sullivan County district attorney, would honor those who laid down their lives and make them “as proud of us as we are of them.”
Thirteen flags, symbolizing the lives of American soldiers lost in Afghanistan last month, frame members of Tusten-Highland-Lumberland VFW Post 6427 at Heroes Park in Eldred.
Andy Boyar gave a timeline of Heroes Park, which was built in 2011 with the help of almost 200 citizens. He articulated the scope of what can be accomplished when a community works together to accomplish a goal.
Dignitaries, including Sullivan County Clerk Russell Reeves, standing front left in white shirt; chair of the Sullivan County Legislature and District 1 Legislator Robert Doherty standing next to Reeves; and Sheriff Mike Schiff in black next to Doherty, were on hand to witness the annual 9/11 ceremony in the Town of Highland. Keynote speaker Meagan Galligan is not pictured.
Linda Bohs, Eldred and Narrowsburg Methodist Church minister, reflected on how God shows up in a tragedy. Father Joselin Pens Berknas of Yulan’s St. Anthony Church delivered the innovation and led those gathering in a prayer lamenting the causes and cessation of terrorism and violence. Rev. Nancy Vonderhost gave the benediction and released the crowd with the singing of “God Bless America.”
The chiefs of the Yulan and Highland Lake fire departments, constable Marc Anthony, and the captain of the American Legion ambulance service participated in the ceremonial laying of the wreath at the 9/11 monument in Heroes Park. Members of Boy Scout Troop 102 salute in the background.
The themes of commitment to community, gratitude for first responders, then and now, and the power of working together to get things done resonated with those in attendance on September 11.