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.
FIRST RESPONDERS – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Public is invited to come meet the local first responders. Will include members of the local fire department, police, and emergency services. LifeNet will be doing a flyover at 11 a.m. and K9 units will be doing demonstrations throughout the event. Lake Front Park, Cooperstown. Visit www.facebook.com/otsegonyfirewire/
Remember me? For scores of years, I was a guy who visited with you through columns in local newspapers, most recently The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta.
I loved doing it – until last summer, when the sky fell on me. Or more precisely, until I fell off our back deck, down four steps, and onto an unforgiving asphalt drive.
I was knocked senseless when my forehead hit the driveway. (Later, lots of stitches.) But as I caromed down the steps, I had reflexively led with my right hand. That meant the brunt of my body’s weight was transferred to my right wrist – and that wrist was trashed badly enough to leave a bone protruding.
What a missed news photo! Stunned Jim lying on the driveway’s hot asphalt, sun blazing down on him, blood seeping from his forehead and his shattered wrist. Oh, and nobody home to glance out a window and gasp at the disaster.
(My dearest Anne, now at rest, was already at Bassett Hospital, undergoing a chemo treatment.)
But an unlikely looking angel was at hand. Brian Chevalier had just finished mowing our back yard and actually saw me fall, as did two contractors working on a nearby house. They were at my side at once and met the immediate needs. One phoned the paramedics and the others rushed to block me from the blazing sun.
That pair dragged a tarp from our garage, and then the three together made tent posts of themselves. They held that heavy tarp above me till the paramedics arrived–for perhaps 15 minutes.
But here’s something to make me cry: The ambulance that came carrying paramedics was not Cooperstown’s own, which was already in service elsewhere. If I hadn’t been unconscious, how pleased I’d have been to know that it was the Fly Creek first responders who swung into our driveway – to “swoop and scoop,” as paramedics say.
For the story gets even better. The guy they scooped up that day was a blood-spattered version of one who, when he still lived in Fly Creek, had helped restore a proud fire department there, and who served for some years as its chaplain. Who’d have thought it?
My treasured friend Randy Velez, the Catholic deacon, does a lot of thinking about how in bad times like these, good people come storming onto the scene. Most of them would seem to be ordinary Janes and Joes, but suddenly they’re reaching beyond ordinarily attempts and doing the demanding, even the brave, even the heroic.
Randy says that he recently took a chance and gave sermon on this subject – and that he wasn’t met with frowns, but with thoughtful nods.
“Whom the Lord loves, He chastises,” reads Proverbs.
That sounds perverse, mean. But, as we’d say down South, the action is more like a firm “rap upside the haid,” a jolt meant to set our attention back to what’s really important to God and ultimately to us. And that’s one another.
For we humans are easily lulled and dulled by seemingly untroubled times. Sometimes we need stirring up.
And if you need a symbol of goodness suddenly awakened and springing to action, think of those three men standing in my driveway, their raised arms surely cramped with pain as they stood around me, sweat running down their ribs, holding taut that heavy tarp for perhaps fifteen minutes.
I say, “God bless those men!” And you? Please shout, “Amen!” And me? I promise to be more careful.
Even without my treasured Anne, I’d like to live on, hoping to balance the flood of kindness recently been poured on me.
Jeff Joyner, Fox Hospital president, waves as decorated fire trucks from 17 area departments, including police and EMS, drove by the hospital this afternoon in a parade dedicated to thanking Fox Hospital staff for their work on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the fire companies, the parade also included Mayor Gary Herzig, The Red Knights Motorcycle Club and a fly-over from the LifeNet helicopter. At right, Kristy Gee and Tiffany Pickett let the drivers know their appreciation as the parade passes by them and their fellow workers lined up outside Fox Hospital. After passing the hospital, the parade continued onto the Fox Care Center to laud workers there as well. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
COUNTRY LIVING FEST – 1 p.m. Celebrate country life with vendors, cornhole tournament (1-6:30), pumpkin patch, farmers’ market, more. Includes demonstrations on backyard beekeeping, floral arrangements, fly fishing, cider pressing, metal detecting, more. Kallan Fields, Well’s Ave., Hartwick. 607-293-8123 or visit www.facebook.com/TownofHartwick/