Sunday, September 17, 2006


I was privileged to help with our community’s 9/11 observance a week ago which was organized by the students of Project Café and the Cazenovia Fire Department. Thanks to all the members of those groups as well as Father Peter from St. James, American Legion Post 88 and the members of the high school Chamber Choir who helped to make the event so memorable.

As I tried to highlight during the ceremony, perhaps one of the few bright spots from the tragedy of 9/11 has been that our nation has focused long-overdue appreciation on a group that has given so much for so long. Our firefighters, police and other first-responders are always there, keeping watch and keeping us safe. It’s a shame that it took the unparalleled sacrifices of 9/11 to bring that fact to our national consciousness, but better late than never. My father was a firefighter for 32 years and my mom was a charter member of our local ambulance corps. I have always been mindful and proud of their efforts and it’s nice to see their colleagues get the much-deserved recognition they are due.

Someone noted as the fire department marched to the park where our veterans’ memorial and fire department memorial are co-located that they were led by a military color guard. They inquired why there weren’t firefighters carrying the colors. The response was that there were! Several members of the color guard are volunteer firefighters as well as military reservists – they were just wearing one uniform instead of another on this occasion. This reinforces my life-long observation that they are people cut from the same cloth… dedicated, service-oriented, quietly heroic, salt-of-the-earth people. I always remarked how similar my father’s (often humorous) stories of life around the fire house were to the intense camaraderie of the Marine Corps.

As advisor to the students of Project Café, I couldn’t have been more proud of the active role which these young people played in planning and carrying out our observance. They should give us all hope that our community and country will be in good hands as they assume adult roles in our society. Other communities should take note of the amazing work done by these students and recognize what an untapped resource our young people are when given the opportunity to serve and to lead.

In closing, I would like to highlight the poignant speech of our Fire Chief, Tom Tait. Tom chose to speak of September 12th, not September 11th. The core of his message was to remember how our nation responded and how we treated one another the day after 9/11. He challenged us to make EVERY day like September 12th in terms of caring, concern for others and civic-mindedness. I’m pleased to report that this spirit is alive and well here in Cazenovia. I can’t begin to thank all those who have come forward to offer help during the past week as news of my deployment has become public. Your kindness is greatly appreciated.

Thank you to Cazenovia photographer Gene Gissin who captured these images at our 9/11 observance and was kind enough to share them with me for this entry.


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