CALLICOON, NY — On Saturday, September 11, 2021, residents of the Town of Delaware came together in Callicoon Creek Park to remember the events of September 11, 2001. It was one of untold …
CALLICOON, NY — On Saturday, September 11, 2021, residents of the Town of Delaware came together in Callicoon Creek Park to remember the events of September 11, 2001. It was one of untold numbers of gatherings taking place across the nation.
The American flag waved high above the crowd. Veterans in full uniform presented colors, and gave a salute to the flag. And guest speakers offered remarks in remembrance of the Twin Towers, each making their own case for what meaning could be taken away from the tragedy.
In a set of welcoming remarks, Town of Delaware Councilmember Alfred Steppich spoke to the tragedy’s universal impact. “This event affected all of us,” he said.
Steppich said that, over the 20 years since September 11, he had run into many people in the region who had been personally affected by the attack. A friend of his had been a construction worker in the city on the day, and made it to the roof where he was working in time to look into the windows of the second plane as it crashed. Other people he’d met had lost relatives, or known people who’d been first responders that had served on the day.
It was a tragedy comparable to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, said Steppich—except that four years after Pearl Harbor, America had brought Japan to its knees.
All the blood and sweat and national treasure spent in Afghanistan seemed, to him, wasted; “Mark my words, they’ll be back.”
Following Steppich’s opening remarks, Assemblymember Aileen Gunther made a speech that praised the spirit of resilience that had led the nation through the attack.
Two thousand, nine hundred and seventy-seven innocents had been killed on September 11, Gunther said, 344 of them firefighters, 72 of them law enforcement officers, and 55 of them military.
But “amidst unspeakable tragedy, the American spirit was more alive than ever.”
Through the tragedy of that day, countless heroes put their lives on the line to help others, Gunther said. They showed extraordinary, remarkable bravery. But there were many still suffering from their service, with physical impacts such as cancer or mental impacts such as depression or PTSD.
In remembering that day, and in remembering the services of the extraordinary people who had risen to the occasion, Gunther said, she was committed to strengthening services to first responders.
Tess McBeath, the Town of Delaware town clerk, spoke following Gunther. She thanked the veterans who had fought so that America could continue to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. She then introduced the rest of the ceremony.
Members of the H. Russell Kenyon VFW Post and the Allan Milk Memorial Post fired a rifle salute; Ross Reynolds of Callicoon played “Taps,” and Shawn Bailey of Mileses sang the national anthem.
United Methodist Church Pastor Bruce Anspach offered a speech and a closing prayer.
Anspach had been in his counseling office in the city on the day of the attack, he said. He’d gone from the office after being told what had happened, and had been assigned with a physician to the Bellevue Hospital Emergency Room, to offer comfort.
The physician and he waited, but few clients turned up. It took them a while, he said, to understand that no one was coming because most people were dead, and not injured.
Anspach highlighted Father Mychal Judge as one of the victims of 9/11 he found the most inspiring.
Judge had had his early religious “formation” (the spiritual, intellectual and pastoral process of becoming a priest) in Callicoon, up on Seminary Hill, Anspach said. He had been a fire department chaplain, and he was killed in the fall of the towers.
“Mike was a great man,” said Anspach. “A holy man, a simple man, a loving man, who brought people together.”
Anspach urged people in attendance to follow that spirit of bringing people together, to see the occasion as a time for everyone to pull back together and remember that they were one people, under God.
In closing, Anspach shared a prayer from Father Judge: “Take me where you want me to go, let me meet who you want me to meet, tell me what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way.”
Memorial services were also held in Beach Lake, PA, and in New York in Eldred, Liberty, Mongaup Valley, Monticello, and Wurtsboro.