A large crowd including Mount Kisco residents and first responders gathered Tuesday for the village's 9/11 memorial service, marking the 11th anniversary and offering time to remember.
“Mount Kisco, thank you very much for coming out and supporting the fire department and the fallen firefighters and the victims of the families of the September 11th attacks," firefighter Rich Alexander told the crowd, which he described as numbering in the hundreds.
The evening included several events of tribute, some taps, to renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America," to ringing of a bell to note the loss of life.
Perhaps the most unique local tribute was the switching of American flags. Firefighter Paul Felice explained that during a ride taken in August 2011, just before the 10th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, by a Mount Kisco fire truck, included 50 flags. The truck went to all three sites hit: the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Shanksville, PA. The intent, Felice explained, is to have a different flag fly at Mount Kisco's memorial for years to come.
“Therefore, for the next 50 years, there will always be a U.S. flag proudly standing guard over this memorial, which visited all three sites of the terrorist attacks," he said.
A mix of first responders - they were police, fire and ambulance corps - assisted in changing the flags.
Felice noted the Mount Kisco Volunteer Fire Department's links to New York City's fire department, and how several members served in both, including in the aftermath.
“We are extremely fortunate to have amongst our volunteer ranks here in Mount Kisco six New York City firefighters, all of whom participated in the rescues operation at Ground Zero but were not injured in the collapse," he said.
Alexander gave a shout out to visiting firefighters from next door, including Chappaqua and Bedford Hills. He noted how their fire departments showed support in New York City during the aftermath of 9/11.
Several area elected officials spoke, both giving thanks for the fallen on 9/11 and those who have since served in the military.
Assemblyman Robert Castelli said, “While we remember today the 3,000 victims who suffered the worst terrorist attack in history - and the great men and women who rushed into the building while many others were trying to rush out - I ask you today also to remember the young men and women in our uniform services, who shortly after that deployed to war and remain deployed to war to ensure that that terrorist act, and terrorist acts that have been planned against us, will never again take place in the future.”
“We’re here for so many reasons, to remember the innocent victims, 109 from Westchester County," said County Legislator Peter Harckham. "And we will never, ever forget them or their families who are still here, brave men and women who ran into the buildings and didn’t come out. Their sacrifice and valor, we will never, ever forget.”
Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrich urged people not to forget the attacks, noting that Pearl Harbor, which ushered the United States into World War II, is fading into memory.
“As I stand before you, December 7th, 1941 continues to fade from our memories. And it is our obligation, as a community, to make sure that this tragedy of September 11th, 2001 doesn’t fade from our memories. And we have to refresh the memories of our young people as to the history of this country and the history of the warriors that have protected this country for years.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a New Castle resident who lives near by, sent a letter of appreciation.
“We will never forget those who we lost on that day and the countless first responders who helped in the recovery and cleanup efforts. Heroes all, they stood for what is best about America," he wrote in the letter, which was read to the crowd by a surrogate. "They are still with us and always will be, in spirit and in moving remembrances such as this memorial ceremony.”
State Sen. Greg Ball, thinking of the event coming up again, said when 9/11 comes up in television or the news, “it makes me so physically sick. I can’t watch it.”
Ball also urged folks who think of how people came together in the aftermath.
“And it’s easy to remember the tragedy. I also think it’s extremely important to also remember on that day how we came together.”
Mount Kisco's memorial, which and put together by the fire department, honors victims who have family connections to the fire district, which includes the village and parts of New Castle and Bedford.
The family of Michael Berkeley, one of two victims listed, was in attendence.
“Well, this is very special," said Lourdes Berkeley, his wife. About the anniversary, she said, “It’s a day to remember and to honor the lives that were lost."
Berkeley said that Michael's body was never recovered, so the memorial is a great place to pay tribute.
The ceremony ended with the Ancient Fife and Drum Corps playing "Battle Hymn of the Republic," as folks were given a chance to lay red carnations at the fountain base of the memorial.
Video showing highlights of the event is attached.