Twenty-two years may seem like a long time to some people. To those who lost a loved one in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it may seem like yesterday.
“It may be the memory of a last kiss given to a spouse or an unresolved silly argument to someone else who was dear or the last goodbye to a mother, a father, a sister, a brother or a child,” Mayor Howard Burrell said during a memorial ceremony Saturday morning, Sept. 9.
”Sometimes I wonder how those lost lives would have unfolded and how their dreams might have taken shape,” he added.
Vernoy Paolini, a retired Vernon educator and volunteer docent at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan, spoke about the Survivor Tree and its seedlings.
One of the three that are distributed annually was planted in front of the municipal building recently.
A damaged Callery pear tree was discovered at Ground Zero about a month after the attacks on the World Trade Center. The tree had snapped roots and the branches were burned and broken.
It was removed from the debris at Ground Zero and brought to a nursery at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which cared for the tree. After the tree was rehabilitated, it was placed at the 9/11 Memorial in 2010 as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth.
The Survivor Tree Seedling Program was launched Sept. 11, 2013. Three communities each year are given seedlings from the Survivor Tree.
Three Vernon residents were killed Sept. 11, 2001: Dorothy Chiarchiaro, Keith Burns and Thomas Linehan.
Members of the Glenwood Pochuck Volunteer Ambulance Corps were part of the Vernon delegation that traveled to New York City to take possession of the seedling.
Burrell unveiled a tribute plaque by two members of the corps at the base of the tree.
A Boy Scout from Troops 404 and 283 and Cub Scout Pack 183 placed a military flag around the Survivor Tree seedling. A shield from each branch of the military was attached to the flag: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force. Stones surrounding the seedling honor police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
Burrell said Vernon was given a Survivor Tree Seedling Project medallion with the number 673. This was placed in a shadowbox with a photo of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center.
“It is my hope that groups will come to visit our tree,” said Paolini.
During the ceremony, residents recalled the more than 2,977 people killed in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. They include more than 2,700 who died at the World Trade Center.
Burrell mentioned that more than 30,000 first-responders are suffering from illnesses related to the attacks. “Some have died from these illnesses and others die each month,” he said, adding that they also are victims of the attacks.