GENEVA — Many of the nation’s young people don’t have a recollection of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 that led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, along with countless more who developed deadly illnesses from the toxins that filled the Manhattan air in the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
But for those of a certain age, it was a seminal moment when in the worst of times, the best was brought out in America.
State Assemblyman Brian Kolb said remembering those who were lost and honoring those who responded in its aftermath “is something we need to do, have to do … to never forget.”
Kolb has attended all 17 of Geneva’s 9/11 ceremonies held near Long Pier at Lakefront Park, including the latest one Wednesday morning. He called the event “a real testimony to Geneva, to the entire community” that the city — hundreds of miles from New York City — holds the ceremony each Sept. 11.
Kolb was one of several dignitaries on hand to commemorate the solemn day. He and others also took time to honor one of the ceremony’s key boosters, late City Councilor John Greco.
“John Greco would be very proud, because I think the crowds are getting bigger every year,” Kolb said.
Lucile Mallard, who traditionally has sung the National Anthem at the event, said she had been considering dropping out of the role but decided to do it this year “for my good friend and in memory of John Greco.”
Geneva Assistant Chief Kevin Powers, one of the event organizers, said Greco would contact him in early August each year to check on how things were going, while Mario Fratto said it was Greco’s friendship with the family that brought the 9/11 monument dedicated to first responders to the city’s lakefront in 2016.
Fratto touched on the recent vandalism of the monument that resulted in the arrest of a Yates County woman. He urged empathy for the suspect, a U.S. military veteran.
“I personally know that person’s family, and pray for her and her family that she gets through this,” he said.
State Sen. Pam Helming said the monument reflects the Fratto family’s “love and the passion for this great country of ours.”
The vandalism “doesn’t in any way distract” from what the monument represents, Helming said. She added that the response to the incident demonstrates how important it is that we recognize all those who sacrificed that day and the aftermath, as well as those who continue to serve the nation as first responders and members of our armed forces.
Assistant City Manager Adam Blowers, representing City Manager Sage Gerling, who could not attend, said he was in 10th grade when the class learned of the attacks. The teacher turned on the TV, and students watched as the second jet crashed into one of the Twin Towers.
As terrible as that was, Blowers also remembers the amazing stories of bravery, that instead of running away from the horrible scene in lower Manhattan “people were running towards the thing.”
Geneva Fire Department Chaplain Bill Hastings noted that first responders continue to die from illnesses related to toxic dust from the Trade Centers’ charred remains, and that they include not just New York City first responders, but also personnel from around the state that responded to the scene to help.
Geneva Mayor Ron Alcock, who also commended his good friend Greco in his remarks, read a proclamation commemorating the day.
It reads as follows:
WHEREAS, eighteen years ago today, a bright autumn morning was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. Thousands of innocent men, women and children perished when the twin towers collapsed in the heart of New York City and wreckage burned in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon; and
WHEREAS, on September 11, 2001, amid shattered glass, twisted steel and clouds of dust, the spirit of America came through. Strangers and first responders rushed to the aid of their fellow Americans with no regard for their own safety; and
WHEREAS, today and forever, those who made the ultimate sacrifice will be remembered in the history of our great nation. As we mark another anniversary of that tragic day, and we remember the sacrifices of those who rose in service during the rescue and recovery efforts, we join in serving causes greater than ourselves; and
WHEREAS, we must honor those we lost by sending reminders of the ways that the victims of 9/11 live on; in the people they loved, the lives they touched, and the courageous acts they inspired.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ron Alcock, Mayor of the City of Geneva, New York issue this proclamation to memorialize the innocent people who perished in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. From the tragedy of September 11th, our nation emerged with a renewed spirit of national pride and a true love of country.
Dated: September 11, 2019