The memory or significance of “9/11” fails to fade even 16 years after the 2001 terror attacks on America- at least for those intimately connected and all those who choose to reflect.

HAWLEY - The memory or significance of “9/11” fails to fade even 16 years after the 2001 terror attacks on America- at least for those intimately connected and all those who choose to reflect.

Whether that refection is a regular thing or not, at the anniversary of that event of September 11, 2001, there are abundant opportunities to pause. Ceremonies across America help make that happen, including at the memorial established in Bingham Park, Hawley in 2011. Between 25 and 30 people gathered this year under a gorgeous clear sky, just as it was on that day America’s “normalcy” was turned upside down.

Rev. Colleen Cox of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church opened with a reading of Psalm 103 and led in prayer. There were poignant remarks offered by various members of the assembly, before concluding with a round of the song, “God Bless America.”

Lost a lot of friends

Vinny DeMarinis retired after working 21 years with the Fire Department of New York, Ladder 122. He left following the attacks at the World Trade Center, and in 2006 moved to the Hawley area.

His birthday is September 10. He happened to have planned a day off from work on the 11th because of it. Then the airliners ran into the Towers. Although he missed responding to the scene, he said he “lost a lot of friends” that day who died with the collapse of the building. He knew approximately 40 of the victims. Ladder 122 lost six members.

“That’s something we carry around the rest of your life,” he said. “I battle with depression all the time. Every year I got to be reminded of it all again. Sometimes I want to forget, sometimes I want to talk about it.”
Almost every day after, he labored with is comrades in the aftermath, digging through the rubble in what proved to be not a rescue but a recovery mission.

From all the hazardous material, he said he developed lung disease and had to have a tumor removed a couple of years ago.

DeMarinis continued, “It’s nice to that everybody came out today,” he said of the crowd gathered at Hawley’s memorial. “You don’t have to be here to ‘never forget’ but it’s nice to see everybody participate and talk about it.”

“Over the years we still keep losing people,” he said. “A few years ago somebody asked, ‘Is it right to say those people were murdered?’ Yes they were, and it continues. I lost a really good friend of mine who worked that day- illness finally got to him. We were so close. I fought fires with him for 16 years in the same company. My kids called him ‘Uncle Owen’ and his kids called me ‘Uncle Vinny.’ Losing him was like 9/11 all over again. He died right in my arms, his last breath. So, it never ends.”

More thoughts

Ilona Grocz commented, “We all should be thankful we’re still here… to give them memories of the ones we have lost.”

Connie Lichtenbeger asked that we pray for all our veterans, who are responsible for our freedoms.
“I’m grateful we live in America and hope and pray our country comes together, and help each other all the time through a catastrophe,” a second woman stated. Rev. Cox interjected that we are seeing that through the two hurricanes in the past couple weeks, as well as the wildfires out west. “That’s what the priority is, how do you come together as a community and help one another?,” Rev. Cox said.

Another woman shared that when she was 17 she lived in that area of Manhattan, before the Twin Towers were built. Since 9/11, she returned and took a tour of Ground Zero. She highly recommended it as a moving experience. The tour guide was woking for a company on the 17th floor of the Trade Center but they had relocated two months before the attacks. The day of 9/11, she quit her job and later became a tour guide, with first hand knowledge of many people who worked - and died -there.

Another man asked that we not forget the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center.
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” reminded yet another man in the group.