Warwick's tenth 9-11 anniversary ceremony held in Veterans Memorial Park

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:17

WARWICK — Although American Legion Post 214 has been conducting memorial services on every anniversary of 9-11, the gathering on Sunday, Sept. 11, had a particular significance. It was the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Perhaps for that reason and that the important date fell on a Sunday, the event was better attended than many previous years. Commander Bruce Sutton welcomed local residents, public officials, veterans, members of the Warwick Police, Ambulance Corps and Fire Departments, representatives of the Warwick Citizens World Trade Center Memorial Committee and others gathered in Veterans Memorial Park. They were there to honor the victims, especially those who lived in Warwick. At precisely 8:46 a.m., Warwick’s Dutch Reformed Church, according to its tradition since 9-11, sounded its bells. It was the time the first aircraft struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Chaplain Robert Ritzer gave the invocation. Then everyone stood silently, heads bowed, as Sutton read off the names of the local residents who perished in the attacks, beginning with Cynthia Wilson. Her name is not inscribed on the Warwick Citizens World Trade Center Memorial at Veterans Memorial Park but she was in the process of moving to Warwick at that time. The names of those local residents inscribed on the Memorial are Elise Wilson, John P. Williamson, Michael Fodor, John Ginley, Stephen Harrell, Bruce Van Hine, Linda Gronlund and Peter Gyulavary. Sutton also invited those present to name any others they wished to honor and several people responded. One name was that of Roy Chelsen. On Sept. 11, 2001 Chelsen, a Warwick resident and NYFD firefighter rushed a group of firefighters out of the Center’s north tower only moments before it collapsed. In the following weeks, Chelsen continued to work at Ground Zero. And in 2005 he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood, which had been linked to his digging in the toxic rubble. He passed away last January. Past Commander Walter Parkinson addressed that issue in his remarks. “In the ten years since the attacks,” he said, “many of the people who worked on the pile to rescue their fellow citizens have not been treated well by our government.” Parkinson criticized Congress for failing to pass a 9-11 responder aid bill last year and added, “Yes, the fiscal cost is high, but the moral cost of not providing for the needs of these people, many of whom are our friends and neighbors is quite worse.” Guests who also spoke that day included Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt, Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard, former Orange County Legislator Ben Winstanley and Allan Lopata, who read his poem about the Warwick Citizens World Trade Center Memorial. Sutton promised to continue the 9-11 memorial ceremony as long as he and other members of American Legion Post 214 lived and urged the youngsters present to continue the tradition. The ceremony ended shortly after 9:03 a.m., the time the second aircraft struck the World Trade Center. Gene White played taps and with the playing of “Amazing Grace,” the crowd dispersed in silence.