SARATOGA SPRINGS – The contradictions of the day and the desire to bring meaning to something 17 years later still incomprehensible, were on open display for anyone who sought to look for them: blue-sky morning versus gray cloud rain; trauma rebutted by survival, and the sudden extinguishing of life counteracted by blessings in the opportunity of being alive.
“9/11 was, is, and always will be a reminder that tomorrow is not promised,” keynote speaker Shawn Patrick told a crowd assembled at High Rock Park on Tuesday, Sept. 11 to mark the 17th anniversary of the 2001 attacks. Patrick’s brother, James, worked for the Cantor Fitzgerald financial services firm and was killed at the World Trade Center that day. The Schenectady native was 30 years old. A few days earlier he celebrated his first wedding anniversary. A few weeks later came the birth of a child whom he would never know.
This Tuesday’s morning rain presented a contrast to the blue-sky morning of that Tuesday’s September day. The annual remembrance event marked the third such Tuesday since 2001 - the others being in 2007 and 2011- a calendar connection that won’t happen again for another 11 years, in 2029.
The ceremony took place at High Rock Park, home to a 25-foot-tall sculpture titled “Tempered By Memory,” commissioned by Saratoga Arts and created by artists Noah Savett and John Van Alstine from five twisted pieces of Trade Center steel. Four pieces came from the North Tower, one came from the South Tower.
City Mayor Meg Kelly, her voice choked with emotion, collectively recalled the thousands killed that day and in the event aftermath: those who worked at their desks, those who responded to help, families separated, children killed, she lamented. The number of New Yorkers suffering post-traumatic stress, Kelly said: “immeasurable.” Similarly, city Fire Department Chaplain Rev. Thomas Chevalier paused to remember both - those killed while attempting to help strangers in need, as well as those who continue to battle physical ailments. “Those who still suffer the consequences of their generosity and care,” he said.
A member of the Saratoga Springs Fire Department rang a silver bell 17 times, one for each year since the 2001 attack. And Commander Christopher Tejeda, of the U.S. Naval Support Activity in Saratoga Springs, recited a timeline “to reflect and remember those who are not with us.” Each was followed by a moment of silence.
8:46 a.m. - American Airlines Flight 11 strikes the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
9:03 a.m. - United Airlines Flight 175 strikes the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
9:37 a.m. - American Airlines Flight 77 strikes the Pentagon Building in Washington, D.C.
9:59 a.m. – The South Tower falls.
10:07 a.m. - United Airlines Flight 93 crashes in a field in Pennsylvania.
10:28 a.m. – The North Tower falls.
Stepping outside the somber remembrances of the day, even the music displayed the conflicted emotions. Alongside renditions of and "America the Beautiful," and Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans," Rick and Sharon Bolton performed both Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" and Woody Guthrie’s "This Land Is Your Land" – the latter song composed ironically as an angry response to the former.