“We must never forget the tragedy that happened that September day 10 years ago. Never, never forget.” These were the words with which East Hampton Fire Chief Ray Harden closed the remarks at a somber ceremony at the Memorial Green near Hook Mill in East Hampton Village on Sunday.
On a warm late-summer evening, some 300 members of fire departments, ambulance associations, and police departments from the South Fork gathered to place wreaths at the memorial to honor those lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Taking part in full dress uniforms were representatives of the Montauk, Amagansett, Springs, East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and Bridgehampton Fire Departments, the East Hampton and Sag Harbor Ambulance Associations, and the East Hampton Town and Village Police Departments. A crowd of about 200 watched the proceedings.
East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., in remarks given at a podium set up in front of the war memorial, recounted what happened on the morning of the attacks in minute-by-minute detail. “These were four horrific events that changed the landscape and fabric of everyday life as we knew it,” he said.
Recalling the many families who suffered losses in the attacks and among the firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and police who responded, Mr. Rickenbach said, “Let it be our charge to make up the void.”
“To the members of the uniformed services, from a very grateful community, I salute each and every one of you,” he said.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson took the podium next. He said it was important to remember “the first responders, the military who sacrifice their lives to continue to keep us safe, volunteer firemen, police, ocean rescue, who hourly put their lives on the line to protect us.”
“As we honor those we lost, let us celebrate and thank those that serve,” he said.
Following the short speeches, two members of each of the emergency service and police departments in turn stepped forward to place a wreath in a semicircle, offer a crisp salute, and return to their ranks as a slow crawl of westbound weekend traffic went by on Pantigo Road.