We are joined here today by a common desire and bond to honor together the precious members of our community taken from us twenty years ago.
We are all drawn to think about today in many different ways. We share many conflicting emotions at the same time.
Marking twenty years also brings an added layer of reflection.
This community was so terribly shaken by September 11, 2001. At the time we came together in shock, fear, love for those killed and love for their families.
Days after the attack we gathered together on the village green for an evening candlelight vigil led by clergy from throughout Rye, probably one of the most crowded events held on that lawn.
We mourned, prayed and cried together.
The memorial services for the fallen were at capacity, often with many standing in the back or at the sides of the house of worship.
In December 2001 we honored three of Rye’s fallen who were hockey players with a memorial hockey game to benefit their families. It was attended by hundreds.
In individual ways, we all reached out to comfort and help the families and friends in that moment of shock and need.
Later, in the effort led by the families of those who died, we built our September 11th Memorial Gazebo that includes the signatures of the fourteen members of the Rye family taken from us. Rich in Rye history, the gazebo is a reproduction of the gazebo that once stood behind the Square House from the early days of the last century until the 1930s.
Later the Chris Mello Award was created and continues to be part of the Rye Harrison football game.
We honor the first responders everywhere. The sacrifices they made on September 11 are the sacrifices all first responders are prepared to make as they do their jobs on a daily basis. The twenty-year mark amplifies the magnitude of the loss. Twenty years of time without friends and family. Twenty years of missed occasions, births, weddings, graduations, the moments of family and community life where their absence is felt.
Our responsibility as a community and as individuals is to remember these beloved people as we knew them, as they lived, as they were part of our lives. Think of them in happier days, in the activities we shared, in the laughter and joy of family and friendship. We can remember them best and honor them most fully by making them live today in the memories we choose, the moments of joy we summon back, in our reflecting on the fullness of their lives and what we continue to miss today.