By Ted Waddell
LOCH SHELDRAKE September 18, 2001 Thank you for saving lives!
God bless America!
Dont give up!
And the one that summed it all up: God bless you all!
These were but a few of the messages and sentiments sent from the heart by hundreds of local residents to the hands of rescue workers laboring in the smoking rubble of the Twin Towers of the shattered World Trade Center in NYC or faced with the daunting task of recovering thousands of dead.
During the haunting Sullivan County Volunteer Firefighters Association (SCVFA) memorial service following the 73rd annual parade, people lined up to jot personal messages on pairs of donated gloves.
Folks were asked by members of the Loch Sheldrake Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary to chip in a $5 donation: the gloves donated by Warehouse Trading and Rowley Lumber were boxed up and, along with other items, are on their way to the city, while the money is being sent to the families of firefighters who sacrificed their lives in servitude.
Minnette Kramer is a member of the Loch Sheldrake Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. They raised money for the rescue effort by selling flags, ribbons and taking donations for the personalized gloves.
I dont think theres another flag in the county, she said.
Ed Tremper is assistant chief of the Rock Hill VFD. On Wednesday night, Tremper and about 18 firefighters from Rock Hill, Monticello, Bloomingburg and Wurtsboro gathered up their turnout gear and drove into the city. After they arrived early the following morning, they volunteered to help in the massive rescue efforts. They returned to Sullivan County on Friday.
On Saturday, Tremper stood in line, waiting to extend his heart to brother firefighters by donating a pair of leather gloves.
Keep together, brothers, he wrote. We came the 3rd day. Ground Zero. Keep it up.
We stayed until 5 a.m. on Friday in the pouring rain to assist in the rescue effort, he recalled. We saw a lot when we were down there.
Chuck Conway is a 29-year veteran with the Rock Hill VFD. As president of the company, he was part of the group that recently journeyed into the city.
We called up the Javits Center, and they told us we couldnt register until 7 a.m. in the morning, so we hopped in a car and headed down to the scene, he said. We got down to Ground Zero at World Trade Center #7.
Forty-nine stories were down to seven, he said. They were taking it apart piece by piece. . . . The devastation at Ground Zero was total.
Conway said that, from their vantage point five blocks away from the twin WTC towers, they witnessed chunks of concrete on top of cars, smashed windows, paper all over the place and a three-inch layer of ash covering everything in sight.
He said that at 2 a.m. on Friday, there were 15 blocks of people, [and] the place was lit up like daytime.
Ive seen pictures of Beirut and Sarajevo, added Conway. Its exactly like that. . . . There was a 50-plus-story building facing the World Trade Center, and every window was gone.
Everybody there was very solemn. It devastated the area and the people who were there. Every person we spoke to, and even though we were not helping, they thanked us for being there, he said.
Mike Aylmer was headed into the city to deliver fish for Eden Rock Fish Market of Monticello.
My first view of the Trade Center was from the Tri-Borough Bridge, he said. All I saw was a golden glow and this big plume of smoke. It was like an eerie silence. . . . All you thought about was what was at the bottom of that plume of smoke.
Aylmer said he worked his way over to Brooklyn, where in five minutes, you got a chalky feeling in your throat.
He eventually arrived at 14th Street but could get no further.
There were lines at the blood center like Ive never seen before, said Aylmer. The hospital was roped off, and there were police at every intersection.
Asked what the United States should do after the attacks, he replied, Never forget, and dont stop until all terrorism is wiped out.
On Sunday, Mike and Kathy Aylmer of Monticello drove into the city with a van filled with items donated to the rescue efforts. The van is sponsored by the Loch Sheldrake VFD, Fallsburg Police Department, SCVFA, Frontier Insurance and local residents.
Along with t-shirts, gloves and cases of bottled water, the van delivered posters filled with messages to rescue workers from scores of local children.
Wishing you all a safe return, said 10-year-old Lindsey Denman. God bless those who have lost their loved ones, wrote Colom, an 11-year-old county resident.
Three little girls teamed up to compose a single message of unity: We are proud to be Americans!