Among the hundreds of area citizens participating sunday in Warrensburg's annual Sept. 11 Memorial ceremony were (left to right) Warrensburg Central students Kerrigan Roth, Adam Langworthy, Merissa Hayes and Luke Bryant. The candlelight ceremony included the involvement of 13 area fire companies and other emergency response agencies, a record for the yearly event.
With candlelight reflecting off tears filling her eyes, Brittany McNulty gazed at a video of the burning World Trade Center projected onto a screen Sunday in Floyd Bennett Park during the town’s annual Sept. 11 memorial ceremony.
The solemn, emotional candlelight ceremony, an annual event in Warrensburg, attracted a record number of participants. About 500 citizens, including dozens of firefighters and other emergency responders from 13 different area agencies were involved.
As she saw images of the towers collapsing and the mayhem in Manhattan streets, McNulty, 16, wiped away the tears.
Ten years ago, she was a first grader in a public school classroom in Queens, watching the attacks on television.
“Teachers were bawling, and parents were coming to pick up their children and take them home,” she said. “My friends and I knew something extremely bad was going on and that a lot of people died, but we were too young to really understand.”
The day after, her father, Thomas McNulty, an employee in a plumbing supply firm in lower Manhattan, went to Ground Zero to help out for several days with the rescue and recovery operation, Kelly recalled.
“It was so heartbreaking, that so many kid’s parents were killed in the terrorist attacks and taken away from them,” she said as the Warrensburg Central School Band played “God Bless America.”
While other communities in the region were holding their first ceremony Sunday to commemorate the event, the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Co. has sponsored the town’s memorial vigil — for those who perished in the attacks — without fail for 10 years.
This year’s turnout was the largest ever, with the most fire companies participating.
Huge American flags, draped from the booms of two tower firetrucks — one from Lake George Fire Dept., and the other from Queensbury Central — were set up on each side of the crowd gathered along Elm St.
Warrensburg Fire chief Justin Hull recounted the heroism of the 343 New York City firefighters killed during the World Trade Center evacuation effort, noting they climbed stair by stair, toting heavy equipment, up dozens of floors in smoke-filled stairwells of the towers in an attempt to rescue thousands.
“Most of them must have known they were not going to make it out,” he said, adding that Warrensburg would continue the annual ceremony indefinitely in their honor.
“We have not, and will not ever forget the true heroes of Sept. 11,” he said.
Participating in the Warrensburg ceremony were firefighters from the volunteer fire companies of Bolton Landing, Chestertown, Garnet Lake, Horicon, Johnsburg, Lake George, Pottersville, North Creek, Queensbury Central, Thurman and Warrensburg.
Area ambulance squads, including the Warrensburg Emergency Medical Services and the North Warren Emergency Squad, were also represented.
The featured speaker for the memorial service was Jeffrey Tennyson, Warren County Superintendent of Public Works, who served as a Major in the Army Reserves. His career includes service in Iraq. He described the commitment to duty the firefighters killed in the Sept. attacks must have possessed.
“These men didn’t die alone, and they didn’t fail our nation or each other,” he said.
Tennyson also talked about the similar commitment of local firefighters, police, highway workers, and emergency medical responders, noting how they saved lives and property in Warren County, particularly in the last several months’ devastating floods — and the fire on River St. in Warrensburg.
“May we honor (those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks) with our continued service — may it be a living memorial to those who passed on,” he said.
He noted that firefighters from northern Warren County responded during the May and August flood events, positioning fire trucks at deep road washouts, where unsuspecting motorists could otherwise plunge into gullies and be killed.
“If not for the emergency responders, it would be chaos out there,” he said, praising those who routinely put their life on the line.