This week we marked the 12th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history with a beautiful and moving memorial service at the Orange County Arboretum. I want to commend Orange County Parks Commissioner Richard Rose, program coordinator Paula Gorton, Friends of the Arboretum president Dora Wright, and all of the Parks staff and Arboretum volunteers, and honor guards for their continued dedication to this program. Year after year, they work to ensure that we never, ever forget our 44 friends, neighbors, and loved ones who were lost on that most horrific day.
Edie McCoy Meeks, RN, 1st Lieutenant, Army Nurse Corps, and Viet Nam veteran gave an inspiring speech as the keynote speaker. She shared her story from Viet Nam to September 11, 2001 to present day with the audience. She closed her remarks urging people to "honor our dead by actually doing it," by taking action and getting involved.
As the bell tolled, the names of those lost were read aloud by James Taylor, benefactor of the Arboretum’s 9-11 memorial, and William Bratton, who represents the families of September 11. Please take a moment to remember their names once again:
David D. Alger, Tuxedo Park; Carl F. Asaro, FDNY, Middletown; Michael E. Asher, Monroe; Lt. Gregg A. Atlas, FDNY, Howells; Matthew E. Barnes, FDNY, Monroe; Michelle Renee Bratton, Westtown; Capt. Frank J. Callahan, FDNY, Bloomingburg; Michael Cammarata, FDNY, Huguenot; Jason M. Coffey, Town of Newburgh; Daniel M. Coffey, Town of Newburgh; BC Dennis L. Devlin, FDNY, Washingtonville; Thomas Dowd, Harriman; Francis J. Feely, Middletown; Lt. Peter L. Freund, FDNY, Westtown; Lt. Michael N. Fodor, FDNY, Warwick; Denis P. Germain, FDNY, Tuxedo; Lt. John F. Ginley, FDNY, Warwick; John Giordano, FDNY, Newburgh; Linda Kristine Gronlund, Greenwood Lake; Peter Mark Gyulavary, Warwick; Robert Hamilton, FDNY, Washingtonville; Lt. Stephen G. Harrell, FDNY, Warwick; Ronnie Lee Henderson, FDNY, Newburgh; Thomas P. Holohan Jr., FDNY, Chester; Chris Michael Kirby, Scotchtown; Kenneth B. Kumpel, FDNY, Cornwall; Kenneth J. Marino, FDNY, Monroe; Edward Mazzella Jr., Monroe; Douglas C. Miller, FDNY, Port Jervis; Michael Montesi, FDNY, Highland Mills; Lynne I. Morris, Monroe; Gerard T. Nevins, FDNY, Campbell Hall; Lt. Glenn C. Perry, FDNY, Monroe; Donald J. Regan, FDNY, Pine Bush; Carmen A. Rivera, Westtown; Paul G. Ruback, FDNY, Newburgh; Michael Trinidad, FDNY, Newburgh; Eric Raymond Thorpe, Tuxedo Park; Donald J. Tuzio, Goshen; Richard "Bruce" Van Hine, FDNY, Greenwood Lake; David M. Weiss, FDNY, Maybrook; Mark P. Whitford, FDNY, Salisbury Mills; Chief John P. Williamson, FDNY, Warwick; Martin M. Wortley, Harriman.
As we remembered the 12th anniversary of the day that forever changed our nation, and the world, we had a tragic reminder right here in Orange County that the war on terror continues. The body of Staff Sgt. Todd (TJ) Lobraico Jr., a member of our very own 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart, was welcomed home in a Fallen Comrade Ceremony at the New York Air National Guard base. Only 22 years old, TJ is the first member of the 105th to die in a combat zone since September 11, 2001. On behalf of the people of Orange County, I extend my deepest condolences to TJ’s family and friends.
To all our brave men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to preserve our freedom – you are in our hearts, our minds, and our prayers each and every day. We will never forget.
Until next week, I wish you all health and happiness.