Herkimer and Mohawk Police Chief Joseph Malone reflected on the magnitude of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“It was our Pearl Harbor. It was our day of infamy,” he said.
Then, saying just like how the Japanese hoped to instill fear in Americans from the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, the terrorists 12 years ago hoped to do the same thing.
Instead, said Malone, “our people were only strengthened.”
Malone, who spoke during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at Herkimer County Community College on Wednesday, also talked about how though the attacks happened far away from Herkimer County, it still had a local impact.
“Many of our local first responders answered the call to give assistance,” he said.
Malone noted how many local people, including HCCC students who are from the New York City area, waited anxiously to hear from loved ones.
He said the unity that Americans demonstrated that day, despite their own divisions, such as how the U. S. Congress gathered on the steps of The Capitol to sing “God Bless America.”
“We have to make sure we gather every year,” said Malone. “It was our day of infamy and let’s make sure the horrors of that day are never forgotten.”
The HCCC 9/11 remembrance ceremony has become an annual event at the campus, gathering officials, legislators, community members, HCCC staff and students to reflect on the events of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
“We now have a generation of young Americans who have no personal memories from that day. For others, the memories have faded, but not here at the college and in this community,” said state Sen. James Seward, R - Oneonta. “Hats off for taking the time to once again to remember and reflect.”
Seward reflected on his own experience from the Sept. 11 attacks. He was having breakfast a few blocks away from the World Trade Center when Flight 11 crashed into the north tower at 8:46 a.m. Then 17 minutes later, Flight 175 was flown into the south tower.
“Nervousness turned into sheer panic and fear on the streets,” said Seward.
He said, “I was eventually able to escape unscathed, except with bad memories and a heavy layer of ash, smoke and dust.”
Seward talked about the emotions for those who experienced what Americans felt in the wake of the attacks, including loss and anger, but also said there was a feeling of gratitude and admiration for first responders and ordinary citizens for their acts of bravery.
“We witnessed the worst of mankind that day, but we also witnessed the very best of mankind,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - The ceremony was one of several throughout the area Wednesday to mark the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Nearly 3,000 people died that day when four commercial airlines were hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a field near Shanksville, Pa.
The college’s event started off with a rendition of the national anthem sung by second-year HCCC student Kevin Montano, where the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4915 color guard in Herkimer presented the colors.
Also speaking during the event were state Assemblyman Marc Butler, HCCC English professor Matthew Powers and HCCC student Adam Lisser, a sophomore studying criminal justice. He talked about how the New York City community came together during that time.
“That’s the lesson we should take from this tragedy. We, as a nation, can come together despite any obstacle that is thrown at us,” said Lisser, who served with the U. S. Army for seven years and is currently active with the National Guard.
Benjamin Moore, of Cooperstown, an HCCC first-year music industry student, played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. Then, after a moment of silence, James Traglia played “Taps” while those in attendance stood silently looking on, with some wiping away tears.
“Our presence here today is our message,” said HCCC President Ann Marie Murray. “ …We will overcome. We will remember. We will endure.” Other ceremonies throughout Herkimer County included one in Newport, conducted by the Newport Volunteer Fire Department and West Canada Valley American Legion Post No. 1524 and one at Mount Markham High School in West Winfield.