SMALLWOOD –– “December 7, 1941. When our country was cowardly attacked in a sneak attack in Hawaii [at] Pearl Harbor. That was 60 years and a few days in between the attacks of our …
SMALLWOOD –– “December 7, 1941. When our country was cowardly attacked in a sneak attack in Hawaii [at] Pearl Harbor. That was 60 years and a few days in between the attacks of our homeland again, on 9/11,” said Sullivan County Court Judge Hon. James Farrell to the crowd attending the 9/11 services at the Smallwood-Mongaup Valley Fire Department on Saturday morning.
“Today, we pause. Today, we honor the sacrifice of so many innocent souls. We also pause and honor the emergency services … the police, the fire, the EMS ... who sprang into action, everywhere there was danger,” he continued. “The response in New York City occurred within five seconds of the first plane striking the North Tower. Five seconds, think about that. Think about the horror of going to work, being in your office and seeing a passenger airliner heading straight for you. That's what those people suffered. The horror of the fire, the horror of the smoke. The horror of the heat such that it was die by fire or jump as many did.”
Farrell noted that the first firefighter that died in response that day, was killed by the body of a person who had jumped. Going back to why he brought up Pearl Harbor, Farrell said he doesn’t necessarily remember any ceremonies commemorating it.
“It's now 20 years [since 9/11],” said Farrell. “There are young ones that were not even born. This fire department, this community does a great service by holding this ceremony and it should continue in perpetuity. That's a legal term. That means forever. We should never forget the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the Marines and the civilians who died on December 7, 1941.
“And we should never forget what happened on September 11,” Farrell continued. “We have an obligation, we have a duty to make sure that we teach our young. I thank this fire department and every other one in this county that does this every single year to make sure that we never, ever forget.”
Saturday’s service was MC-ed by Town of Bethel Supervisor Dan Sturm. Additional speakers included NYS Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, District Attorney Meagan Galligan, Sheriff Mike Schiff, Legislative Chairman Rob Doherty, Diane Lubniewski, Liz Buono (a representative from Congressman Antonio Delgado’s office) and John Scanlon. George Wood and Rev. David Coons gave the opening prayer and closing invocation respectively.
Scanlon, who lost a nephew on 9/11, was the last to speak. The longtime member of the Smallwood-Mongaup Valley Fire Department has been synonymous with the 9/11 services held there since its inception. He has had his own health battles in recent years, and thanked his brethren for picking up the torch and making sure the event continued.
“This was never ever about me,” he said. “This is always about you. Giving you a place to come and pay respect to those who died or who were murdered. As I've been saying for 20 years, the way to honor them is random acts of kindness, whatever they may be.”