It’s 15 years and counting now, but for many people, the memory of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, is as strong and as relevant as ever.
“I did not know anyone directly who was killed on 9/11, but we have people in our congregation that were really touched by that tragedy,” said Rev. James Bookout, of the Bridge Christian Church on Crane Street in Schenectady. “Everyone knows somebody who knew somebody that died. My niece lived in New York City. She was there, and she’s still traumatized by it.”
Bookout’s church is hosting a Solemn Tribute Service at 6:30 p.m. today, one of a handful of events around the Capital Region commemorating the terrorist attacks on New York’s twin towers 15 years ago today. At 5 p.m. today, the Waters Edge Lighthouse will host its We Will Never Forget 9/11 Ceremony for the 10th year, and in Saratoga Springs, the city will mark the occasion with its own Remembrance Ceremony at High Rock Park, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Bookout’s event at the Bridge Christian Church in Mont Pleasant is in its fourth year. John Sullivan, a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will be the featured speaker.
“What we try to do is honor the first responders and all of those who gave their life on 9/11,” said Bookout. “But we also pray for the families that may have lost their loved ones. By doing that, we also honor America, this great country that we live in, and we keep people aware of the fact that we need to continue to pray for peace in the world.”
The Bridge Christian Church is a non-denominational congregation that began holding services at 735 Crane St. nearly four years ago. Bookout, a Rotterdam native who has been active in ministry work in Schenectady for 40 years, said everyone is welcome.
“I like to feel that we’re involved with all the churches in the area, and we welcome everyone to our church with the love of Christ,” he said. “Every denomination, every background is welcome. We do anything we can. We reach out to everyone in order to make the world a better place.”
Bookout said the service at Bridge Christian Church will officially begin at 7 p.m. and should last a little more than an hour.
In Glenville, Pat Popolizio, owner of the Waters Edge Lighthouse, put up a 9/11 memorial on the banks of the Mohawk River 10 years ago and has held an event each year to commemorate the attacks and their aftermath.
“We do it because we should never forget the people that were sacrificed on 9/11, but also for the many events that happened after that,” said Popolizio.
The memorial was built with help from Jon Wells and more than 30 other Capital Region business professionals.
“We lost thousands of soldiers in the war that followed 9/11, so to me it’s extremely important that we never forget, and that we remember everyone, including all the responders, who sacrificed their lives,” Popolizio said.
Lt. Colonel David Panzera, Chief Pilot for the 109th Airlift Wing at the Stratton Air National Guard Base, will be among the speakers at the Waters Edge. Popolizio said his ceremony usually lasts around an hour and draws between 300 to 400 people. Included in that group are members of the armed forces and representatives from local police and fire departments.
GROUND ZERO ITEMS
The Waters Edge Memorial consists of a few beams taken from Ground Zero, and a partially burned U.S. flag, now sealed in a glass case, that flew over one of the buildings destroyed in the attacks. Included in the case are the names of nine people from the Schenectady area who died that day.
“We put all the names that we could in the case,” said Popolizio, who added that the list of people may not include everyone from the Capital Region who lost their lives on 9/11. “We did our best to recognize as many people as we could from this area.”
The memorial idea took form after Popolizio’s son returned from serving in Iraq.
“I wanted to do something special for him when he came back, so I bought a 70-foot flag pole,” said Popolizio, referring to the large flag that flies high over the memorial at the Waters Edge. “Then we got the beams and the burned flag. I think it’s a very fitting tribute, and as far as I know, it’s the only memorial in the country that was financed by individuals.”
In Saratoga Springs, Mayor Joanne Yepsen will host the 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Tempered by Memory sculpture in High Rock Park. At 8:46 a.m., the event will have a moment of silence to mark the time when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Don Britten will be the featured speaker.
“I think all the residents of Saratoga feel that this is a good way to connect with everyone else that has experienced grief, and to thank all of the first responders,” said Yepsen. “We want to thank them, as well as the police and firemen and women serving our city, and we also want to remember all the military members who have fought for this country. I want to provide that opportunity for people to reflect and feel a sense of community. We must always remember.”
The Tempered by Memory memorial at High Rock Park is composed of five pieces of twisted steel from the World Trade Center and was designed by Noah Savitz in collaboration with John Van Alstine.
There were nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the 9/11 tragedy, which also included an attack on the U.S. Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the crash of United Air Flight 93 just outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
9/11 commemoration events around the area:
ALBANY — Gallery tours of “The World Trade Center: Rescue, Recovery, Response,” will begin at 1 and 3 p.m. at the New York State Museum.
COLONIE — A Freedom Walk will begin at 5:30 p.m. at The Crossings on Albany Shaker Road, as Blue Star Mothers honor the memory of military members and first responders.
EAST GREENBUSH — A Patriot Day Ceremony will begin at noon at Melvin Roads American Legion Post 1231 on Columbia Turnpike.
GLENVILLE — We Will Never Forget 9/11 Ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. at the Water’s Edge Lighthouse Memorial.
HALFMOON — A Prayer and Reflection Ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Abele Memorial Park on Harris Road.
JOHNSTOWN — A World Trade Center Artifact Dedication Ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s visitors parking lot. Perrella Gallery will also be open 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City of Saratoga Springs will conduct a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at High Rock Park at 8:30 a.m. at the Tempered by Memory sculpture.
SCHENECTADY — Solemn Tribute Service will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Bridge Christian Church on Crane Street in Schenectady.
SCHENECTADY — The Labyrinth Walk for Peace will take place from 2-5 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church at 1229 Baker Ave.