BATAVIA — Those who have spoken about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sometimes say people remember where they were when the attacks occurred that morning.
A couple of the speakers at today’s observance for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, hosted by VFW Veness-Strollo Post 1602 talked about what they thought and saw that day.
City of Batavia Police Department Detective Sgt. Matt Lutey said he came across an article the other day that said America’s two biggest military recruitment surges came after Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
“The unique aspect of this is that those who enlisted after these events knew what they were signing up for,” he said. “It wasn’t for free college tuition. It wasn’t for pay or any other benefit. It was to step forward in the fight for our country.”
On Sept. 11, 2001, Lutey said, he was in high school.
“I will never forget the events of that day. I will never forget how I felt. I will never forget driving around after school and seeing everyone putting up American flags,” he said.
City of Batavia Fire Department Lt. David Green said strangely, he remembers details of the morning of 9/11, but the rest of the day was a blur.
“After seeing the planes hit the towers, the other locations and the continuous news reports, I can remember feeling helpless and feeling the need to do something,” Green told those gathered. “In the hours that passed, we sat and watched our world change.”
Green said he is proud that the fire department stepped up and sent crews to New York City as soon as it was able.
“However, I was not in that response. For me, there’s still a feeling I needed to do something,” he said. “After discussion with my wife, I decided to get back into the military in a reserve capacity. As time passed, I still felt the draw and eventually got my time to serve. I eventually deployed, on three separate occasions, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The city supported my efforts and allowed me to keep my medical coverage for my family while I was serving overseas.”
To Batavia City Councilperson-At-Large Bob Bialkowski, though it’s been 20 years, it seemed like an hour ago that 9/11 took place.
“The mainland of our great country was attacked by our enemies. Please, let’s never, ever forget this day,” he said. “Four airliners were hijacked and used to commit these acts of terror.” Bialkowski read the timeline of the attacks that morning:
n American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center’s North Tower at 8:46 a.m.;
n United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.;
n American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m.; and
n United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pa., at 10:03 a.m. It was headed toward targets such as the White House or Capitol Building, but crashed after the terrorists were overtaken by some very brave passengers, Bialkowski said.
We will never forget the hundreds of responders who died so that others might live, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, said.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Most, if not all of us, remember exactly what we were doing that day in a very vivid way, almost as if it were yesterday,” he said. “Where we were, who we were with and how we felt watching the Twin Towers fall changed our lives and our nation forever.
“As New Yorkers, we were particularly affected by an attack close to our own homes. We are forever grateful to our first responders, many of whom still live with the physical, psychological effects of their service during that tragic time,” Hawley said.
VFW Post 1602 Junior Vice Commander John Woodworth, Jr. said the attacks on 9/11 were the worst attacks on the American people and the second-worst attacks on America’s resolve.
“The worst, as many, many may know already, is Dec. 7, 1941, at the Pearl Harbor Naval Station,” he said. “However, instead of another country waging war on our nation, using military force against military force, 19 Islamic extremists committed an unthinkable act of cowardliness against the American people and tested our resolve.”
These weren’t the only victims of 9/11, Woodworth said.
“We lost 412 of America’s heroes. I’m referring to our firefighters, our police officers and medical personnel, who answered the call and gave all to save tens of thousands of lives during rescue operations in the World Trade Center,” he said.
The ceremony included a gun salute and the playing of taps.