By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Across Otsego County, there were remembrances for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that rocked the world and changed the course of history.
The First Presbyterian Church in Oneonta rang the church bell 20 times for each moment of the attack. It range at 8:45 a.m., when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, 9:03 a.m., when the second plane hit, at 9:45 a.m., when the pentagon was hit and at 10:10 a.m., when United 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.
Motorcyclists from the American Legion Riders had a run in honor of the day. About 100 riders roared through the streets of Oneonta and were later in Milford, a line of motorcyclists stretching back across state Route 28.
Milford held a parade where firefighters from the region drove past the Milford Fire Department in their fire trucks, throwing candy to the children as people cheered and waved American flags. Leading the parade were two navy veterans who stood atop a car while Taps played from the loudspeaker.
Wilber Park in Milford was a scene of remembrance but also was doubly a fundraiser for cancer research. Otsego County Rep. Jennifer Mickle, R-Decatur, Maryland, Westford, Worcester, helped organize the event.
The prominent message at the park and in all of the events was gratitude towards first responders, including firefighters, police, EMS workers and the military.
Attending the event was Oneonta mayoral candidate Len Carson and other local leaders.
Austin Partridge, a member of the Milford Board of Representatives, spoke of enlisting in the Marine Corps and said he saw hope in the sacrifices made by those who have died in 9/11 and the war on terror.
He ended with a rendition of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a speech fitting the tone of the day with a reflection about the deaths of innocents, first responders and soldiers and the consecrated the ground where they died.
Former state Sen. James Seward, a Milford resident, spoke about how he was in lower Manhattan on 9/11 and witnessed first hand the terror and hope of being in such a momentous event.
“All hell broke loose,” Seward said. “I’ve never seen such fear.”
Seward said if it wasn’t for the actions of the police, firefighters and EMTs, the “causalities could have been ten times more.”
“They truly are heroes, our police, our firefighters and all our first responders,” Seward said. “We owe them a great debt of gratitude.”
Seward switched gears to talk about his experience with having cancer twice as well as COVID and surviving both.
“I’m happy to report to you that I’m cancer free,” Seward said. “I have survived two life threatening diseases.”
Seward spoke of how New Yorkers banded together during 9/11 to help each other.
“They are all heroes. You are all heroes,” Seward said. “This is truly a day to celebrate heroes and I’m glad we’re doing this.”
Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield, gave an impassioned speech about the loss of his daughter to brain cancer as well as the importance of remembering 9/11.
“Needless to say this is a day of remembrance,” Salka said, who acknowledged the medical professionals who helped his daughter as well as the first responders were all heroes and that all those who make sacrifices to serve the community are heroes.
“There are some very bad things that can happen to people that can be good in the long run,” Salka said of the legacy of 9/11 and other tragic events. “We know these are things that touch people. …We’re going to get through this because we’re all heroes in some respect.”
State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Maryland, said that 9/11, “continues to define our nation to this day.”
“It seems like yesterday, especially in New York,” Oberacker said. “Those losses continue to this day.”
Oberacker paused his speech as a flag that had once flown over Afghanistan was raised over the park in the distance.
“We will never know what we truly lost that day,” Oberacker said. “The toll of that day could be much worse. Let this day be a call to renew our commitment to our community.”
Oberacker ended by commenting on the divisive nature of the United States at the moment by telling the crowd that despite people’s differences, they are all Americans.
“We are all Americans and we have so much in common,” Oberacker said.