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Vista Fire Dept. Unveils 9/11 Memorial At Service

VISTA, N.Y. – Dozens of veterans, firefighters, government officials, and Lewisboro residents gathered at the Vista firehouse Tuesday night for a 9/11 memorial service and the unveiling of the fire department’s new monument.

The Vista Fire Department received a steel beam artifact from the twin towers last year and it was incorporated into the construction of the company’s new 9/11 memorial situated on the back lawn of the firehouse.

The service, which was attended by local officials that included Town­ Supervisor Peter Parsons, county Legislator Peter Harckham, and Police Chief Frank Secret, was led by Vista Fire Chief Bill Dingee and featured an array of guest speakers.

“I saw our department come together that day to do whatever necessary,” Dingee told the crowd during his opening remarks. “Our first instinct was to go to the site itself. For the year following, we attended a lot of funerals. But everywhere we went that year we saw the American flag – on buildings, cars, highway overpasses. We had a higher number of applicants [for the fire department] that year. But that’s changed and the memory is fading – so, we must never forget.”

Rabbi Carla Friedman of the Jewish Family Congregation gave the invocation.

“Many of those who schemed to bring down the twin towers have been punished,” she said. “But that day is really about heroes, like the passengers on Flight 93, the first responders, and those who searched through the rubble.”

Harckham also had praise for the 9/11 first responders and said the new monument was a fitting tribute to them

“We are biologically programmed to run from danger, but the first responders ran toward the danger and many of them paid the ultimate price,” he said. “We can choose to embrace that spirit that rose out of the ashes. This beautiful memorial represents that and is a place for us to reflect and come together.”

Psychologist Gary Althein, a member of the Vista Fire Department, was a first responder on 9/11 and was put in charge of the armory on 33rd Street. In his speech, he recalled that day and how the lessons he learned can help people cope with the memory of the tragedy.

“Everyone was so helpful [at the armory] that day,” he said. “It was always, ‘What can I do for you? How can I help?’ We need to go back to that: ‘How can I help?’ Coping with this there are no rules – just different ways of experiencing it.”

Participants at the service then lit candles and joined a procession that led to the monument where it was blessed by the Rev. Gene Ott, pastor of Stevens Memorial Unied Methodist Church in South Salem. The Rev. Joseph Campo, rector of St. John’s Church in South Salem and St. Paul’s Chapel in Vista gave the benediction.

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