Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Cathy Paty sings the National Anthem at the beginning of last Wednesday’s services in remembrance of September 11 at the Monticello Firehouse.
'Sacred day' for services
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO September 17, 2013 More than 100 assembled at the Monticello Firehouse last Wednesday to remember not just the horrendous tragedy that took place under the gorgeous blue skies on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, but also the thousands who died that fateful day, including hundreds of firefighters and emergency personnel.
The ceremony, framed by severe thunderstorms, opened with the Monticello Fire Department Color Guard, led by bagpiper and Department of Environmental Conservation Officer Michael Bello.
After the pledge to the flag, Father Don Beck presided over a convocation, followed by an equally moving rendition of the National Anthem by Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce Vice President Cathy Paty.
Yellow Cab owner and Monticello firefighter and ex-chief Alan Kesten spoke eloquently before introducing the evening’s guest speaker, Sullivan County native Suzy Rhulen-Loughlin, cofounder of the Roswell, Georgia, based Firestorm Solutions, a company that designs and prepares disaster preparedness solutions for the corporate and educational sector.
Noted Kesten, “The year 2013 is not really significant. Only the date 9/11. This is the twelfth time we have gathered here in this place for the simple purpose of remembrance… In the fire service we remember the number 343. That’s the number of fellow brothers and sisters who ran in, as everyone else ran out. Wave the flag and know in your minds, hearts and souls what the meaning of freedom is and you are a patriot.”
“Today we remember the tremendous loss suffered by our nation on 9/11 and the people who perished,” said Rhulen-Loughlin. “We remember not only the individuals who were working at the Pentagon, in the [Twin] Towers and those on airplanes, but also the first responders who ran to their aid. Helping others is what all of you do and America has a long legacy of citizens helping each other beginning with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and culminating with you, our first responders… You all represent the very best of that legacy.”
Rhulen-Loughlin was followed by former Monticello Fire Department Chiefs Bill Lane and Albert Washington, who every year hang the ceremonial wreaths at the 9/11 memorial just outside the firehouse. This year they performed the ritual in the driving rains.
Perhaps, though, Kesten summed up the date’s importance best when he told the Democrat, “9/11 is something of a sacred day in the service. It was, after all, the largest loss of life in the history of the fire service, and emergency services in general.
“It’s an extremely important date and that’s why we hold our service each year, as do several other companies throughout the county. It’s partly a memorial and partly remembrance… It’s Patriots Day… It’s a reason to proudly wave our flag.”