‘Never forget’ 9/11

Color Guard, Boy Scout Troop No. 51, and the ladies auxiliary stand near the 9/11 memorial at the Broadalbin-Kennyetto fire department’s 9/11 ceremony shown on Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

BROADALBIN — Most people remember where they were when they first heard the news of a passenger plane operated by American Airlines crashing into one of the Twin Towers in New York City. Glued to the television screen, watching the horror unfold, we watched with disbelief as the second airliner, operated by United Airlines, tilted to the left just before its wings ripped into the side of the second tower, taking out several dozen floors in a fiery explosion. At that moment, we knew this was not a tragic accident, but a terrorist attack and the country seemed to take on an entire new energy and a vow to never forget those who lost their lives on that day.

The Broadalbin-Kennyetto Fire Company held a 9/11 ceremony Monday in remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001.

It has been 16 years since the terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center, on the Pentagon and where one of the hijacked planes crashed in a Pennsylvania field. Almost 3,000 people lost their lives that day and well over 6,000 were injured.

“We gather here tonight to remember those lost in the terrorist attacks on our country Sept. 11, 2001,” said Archie Rose, assistant chief of BKFC.

The ceremony began with a procession led by the Color Guard, followed by the American Legion Post No. 337, bagpiper Misha Murdoch, BKFC, ladies auxiliary BKFC, Perth fire department, Galway fire department, Berkshire fire department, Mayfield fire department, Providence fire department and Boy Scout troop No. 51.

Broadalbin Mayor Larry Cornell then gave some welcoming remarks.

“Sometime during the ceremony, reflect on where you were during that day,” Cornell said.

Firefighters and guests all remained silent as the fire department’s flag was lowered and the ceremonial flag was raised where it will stay raised for 24 hours in honor of Sept. 11.

The lowering and raising of the ceremonial flag was done by the Boy Scouts Troop No. 51, with a firing squad by American Legion Post No. 337 and taps played by Leif Morfold.

“The flag they will be using today was donated by George Pifko family and was flown over a New York City fire house in Harlem, New York, where George Pifko Sr. served,” Rose said.

Sen. James Tedisco was invited to the ceremony but unfortunately wasn’t able to make it as he attended other 9/11 ceremonies.

Representing him was Jennifer Donovan, who read a letter written by Sen.Tedisco.

According to the letter, Tedisco said, “We will never forget the nearly 3,000 souls who lost their lives Sept. 11, 2001, and all those free, all those who have given their lives since to keep us safe and free.”

Keith Bartholoma, secretary and chaplain of BKFC then read “A Fireman’s Prayer.”

“Every year I recite this prayer and it always has meaning in my heart. For the past members of this company and the future members, and of course, the current members, let us pray,” Bartholoma said.

Following “A Fireman’s Prayer” was the tolling of the bell done by Philip Comini of BKFC.

When a firefighter died in the line of duty, fire alarm office would tap on a special signal of four round of five measured dashes. This became universally known as the tolling of the bell.

“The signal is a sign of honor and respect for all firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice and has become a time-honored tradition,” Rose said.

The ceremony then moved forward to the presentation of the wreaths.

There are three wreaths that are each part of the 9/11 memorial at the Broadalbin-Kennyetto Fire Department. The 9/11 memorial also includes steel from Ground Zero to remember those who were lost, the five-sided concrete pad for those lost at the Pentagon, a grassy area of those lost in the crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania and a piece from the World Trade Center that holds a plaque that reads “Lest we forget 9-11-01.”

“We will have three wreaths presented tonight. The BKFC, Tom Traskos and Ed Zayicek will present the wreath to honor firefighters and other emergency personnel. National Guard Sgt. Christopher Crawford and Sgt. Robert Lynons will present a wreath to honor military personnel. Honoring civilians and law enforcement personnel are Jennifer Donovan and Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino,” Rose said.

Rose then made a speech on why we should never forget.

“Nearly 6,000 people directly related to 9/11 are fighting cancer today, from the after effects of that incident,” Rose said.

The Rev. Kathy Reese also said some words and gave a closing prayer.

“I personally lost two very dear friends on the 104th floor of the second tower. They were never recovered,” Reese said.

The ceremony came to an end with a candle lighting by ladies auxiliary and singing of “God Bless America.”

“Never forget,” said Frank Volpe, who was in charge of the 9/11 ceremony at Broadalbin-Kennyetto Fire Department.

By Patricia Older

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