Recalling the horror and heroism

WARRENSBURG - Standing streetside in the rain, their faces lit with flickering candlelight, about 200 area residents watched a video of news clips Friday evening during Warrensburg's Sept. 11 Memorial Ceremony - news videos that depicted the terror of Sept. 11 2001.

The jets erupting in billowing explosions after plowing through the World Trade Center, white-collar workers jumping from the towering buildings, the twin cowers collapsing in a roaring cloud of grey dust, and stunned citizens running from the incomprehensible scene.

But the news cameras that day also captured plenty of images of those who weren't running away - the firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel that went to the scene to help others. The hundreds who lost their lives in the initial hours and would never return, and those who put their lives at grave risk as they worked in the wreckage to keep the death toll down.

The video was presented by the Warrensburg volunteer firefighters during the candlelight ceremony at Floyd Bennett Bandstand downtown to honor the victims and heroes of the attacks including the 343 emergency responders who perished on Sept. 11.

Justin Hull told the assembled crowd that Sept. 11, however abominable and tragic, had evoked the admirable character in Americans.

"This nation grew stronger - we showed what could happen when we all came together - that our spirit could not be broken," he said.

Former Chief Rick Hull reminded residents that risks were taken by firefighters wherever they responded.

"Fire and death show no preference as to when and where it strikes," he said, describing the destructive blaze two weeks ago at Oscar's Smokehouse in town.

"We danced with the devil at Oscar's," Rick Hull continued, noting that the local firefighters responded to 12 calls over Labor Day weekend.

An older man watched the videos of the horror, and listened to the words offered by the firefighters, dressed in formal garb. The man said that he, at work as a New York City Housing Authority employee on Sept. 11, had witnessed the attacks out his office window in Brooklyn.

"Just watching all that happen made me sick," he said with tear-filled eyes. The man, who moved up to the area in 2004, refused to reveal his name. But he proudly introduced his son, a Lake George firefighter.

The man then looked at the Warrensburg firefighters, placing a memorial wreath near the bandstand to honor those who sacrificed their lives in the attacks.

"Thanks should go to the Warrensburg Fire Co. for holding this each year," he said. "Just to know that so many people feel like you do is so important."

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