By Matt Youngfrau
HURLEYVILLE September 17, 2002 With September 11, 2001, still fresh in their minds, the Hurleyville Fire Department held an interfaith memorial service at their firehouse on Sunday. They also dedicated a monument and planted a tree in honor of those lost.
Over 100 people braved the rain for the event.
"We all came together and cleaved to one another," noted Sullivan County Legislature Chair Leni Binder. "We have gotten complacent. We can't lose our humanity, kindness, or caring. If we do so, then they [the terrorists] have succeeded."
"After I thought of what happened, I had a very empty feeling," stated Town of Fallsburg Supervisor Steve Levine.
During the ceremony, Levine played his guitar and sang "This Land is Your Land."
"At the worst times, we have the greatest to deal with, he remarked. We came through, and I believe we are stronger."
"The weather is very fitting for today's ceremony," added Sullivan County District 6 Legislator Jodi Goodman as the rain fell. "It causes you to stop, think, slow down, and mourn. God is crying today.
I did notice that the sun came out briefly as the candles were lit. I believe that is God telling us there is hope."
A white candle was lit to represent the civilians lost at the World Trade Center in New York City. The green candle represented the emergency personnel at the site. The blue candle symbolized the police. Lastly, a red candle was lit in honor of the fire services.
"After death, we light candles," Past Hurleyville Fire Chief Stuart Wizwer said. "This time is no exception. The wick and the flame are just like the body and soul. I hope they [victims] are looking down upon us."
"This is a day of remembrance and mourning," stated Hurleyville Fire Chief George Gibson. "The events touched us all. Never let us forget those who were lost on September 11, 2001."
"September 11 is a day that will live in infamy," said Fallsburg Town Justice Bart Rasnick. "That phrase was used with Pearl Harbor. What is the difference between Pearl Harbor and September 11? Pearl Harbor was an attack on our military. September 11 was an attack on civilians. But these people will not bring terror and fear to the American people. We will honor all the fallen heroes."
The Fallsburg Police Benevolent Association (PBA) made a special presentation to the Hurleyville Fire Department of three shadow boxes and two plaques in honor of all the work they have done not just during 9/11.
"We have to have the strength in our heart to heal," commented Fire Department Chaplain James Kaufman. "The terrorists tried to inflict fear. They wanted to bring us to our knees. They brought us to one knee and broke our heart. With our inner strength, we have restored our souls. We will never forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice."
"They gave their lives so others could live," agreed Rabbi Marvin Goldman from Congregation Ahavath Israel in Liberty. "They had the courage and strength to sacrifice their lives for strangers. We swear by the grace of God and our human will, we will never suffer this kind of pain again."
"It is with a deep sense of honor that I join you today," commented United States Congressman Maurice Hinchey. "This is an important ceremony. It has been replicated in many places across the country. We take this occasion to think deeply of the loss, implications, and ramifications of last year's events."
Hinchey praised the work and dedication of all the volunteer services. He announced that he had introduced a bill in Congress that would give volunteers in the fire service and other emergency fields a $1,000 tax credit.
The ceremony lasted well over an hour and a half. Most stayed and braved the elements to wait for the dedication of the monument in back of the firehouse. Afterwards, the fire company hosted a cookout and invited all to stay and dine with them.