Shortly before sunset yesterday evening, a crowd formed at the bunting-draped bandstand in the center of Warrensburg. They arrived by car and truck, bicycle and on foot to attend the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Company’s annual 9/11 Memorial Service. Fire engines and emergency vehicles lined upper Elm Street bearing the names of their companies, which came from Lake George, Bolton, Chestertown, Horicon, Johnsburg, Pottersville, Schroon Lake, Thurman and Warrensburg. Several dozen children, many holding small American flags, lined the curb, and the Warrensburg High School Band played patriotic music leading up to the ceremony.
“The true effects of this event may never actually be known,” said Justin Hull, Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Company Chief. “There’s countless numbers of people that are suffering from 9/11-related illnesses. FDNY alone has lost 159 additional firemen as a result of this tragic day.” Other speakers also noted the impact the tragedy of 2001 continues to have on individual lives.
“There are still people suffering today,” said Warrensburg 1st Assistant Chief John Hensler, “I know of one FDNY fireman that, due to the dust from ground zero, now has a desk job due to not being able to pass his physical. I know this is hard for him, not being able to do what he loves, helping others in need and saving lives and property.”
The ceremony began with the fire companies solemnly marching up Elm Street and forming a line to face the bandstand. Father Thomas Pettigrew of the Church of the Holy Cross delivered the invocation prayer and Michelle Bedell of Boy Scout Troop 100 led the Pledge of Allegiance. Lee Pecue sang a stirring a cappella rendition of the National Anthem.
A video, displayed on a large screen, showed a montage of images from Sept. 11, 2001 accompanied by the drone of bagpipes. The remembrance closed with a bell ringing ceremony for fallen firefighters, a wreath laying ceremony to Taps and Pecue leading the crowd in singing “God Bless America.”