Saratoga Springs’ 9/11 ceremony remembers the fallenBy Lauren Mineau September 11, 2014
People look at “Tempered by memory Schulpture” in foreground Thursday, September 11, 2014 during 911 remembrance at High Rock Park in Saratoga Springs, N.Y..
SARATOGA SPRINGS >> During a moment of remembrance at 8:46 a.m. on Thursday morning, Barbara Floryshak noticed the wind pick up the same way it did 12 years ago when she visited Ground Zero a year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“That’s something from beyond, and I’m not the only one who noticed it,” she said.
Floryshak, a Malta resident, now works at the Albany Stratton VA, giving a morning worship service but has had a lifetime of pastoral service.
She was in New York city just days after the attacks to help “in any way she could,” and returned again in 2002 to continue assisting and attend remembrance ceremonies.
“It was horrible. The smell was so horrible: burning wires, the air was filled with white dust. People were wandering aimlessly. Some cried,” she said.
She recalls visiting the World Trade Center two days before the attacks, showing a group of visiting German tourists the towering structures.
“The buildings were something people wanted to see when they came to New York,” she said.
She was one of many residents who attended the 9/11 remembrance ceremony Thursday in High Rock Park. The ceremony featured songs from the Saratoga Springs High School Choraliers and speakers sharing their stories of that day.
Mat Tully, a local attorney and veteran gave the keynote address, wearing his Purple Heart, awarded to him after his service in the months after the attacks.
Tully was working the South Tower of the World Trade Center and watched the North Tower go down, and moments later his own building began to collapse.
At first, he said thought the first hit may have been a mistake, or an accident.
“When the buildings came down I knew America was at war,” Tully said.
Tully’s office was on the 65th floor of the South Tower, but he was in the lobby at 8:46 a.m. about to head up for another day of work, when Flight 11 hit the North Tower.
“Then I saw the buildings collapse, up until that point I thought maybe it was a bad day for air traffic controllers,” he said.
He said he knew immediately felt he needed to help. Then a captain in the New York Army National Guard’s 42nd infantry he was assigned to the New York Police Department’s command and served as a military liaison to the NYPD chief. During his service, he was hit by a suicide bomber and suffered injuries.
The ceremony was brought together by the mayor’s 9/11 Memorial Committee, chaired by Dottie Pepper, an American professional golfer and Saratoga Springs native.
“This came together very well with people all across the city,” Pepper said.
The gray skies and light sprinkle of rain would dampen the mood any other day, but on this day of remembrance, the elements were appropriate.
The 50-plus volunteer committee included remarks from Mayor Joanne Yepsen, a wreath presentation from the police and fire departments, a benediction from Rabbi Jonathan Rubenstien, and the Pledge of Allegiance read by former mayor Ken Klotz, who was mayor of Saratoga Springs in 2001.
“We all have a role to play in creating a world where terror and hatred are gone,” Rubenstien said.
High Rock Park itself serves as a place of reflection of solace for Saratoga Springs. High Rock Park was used by Native Americans as a place of refuge and healing as early as the 1300s. One of the park’s most famous visitors, Sir William Johnson, recuperated from battle wounds after drinking from High Rock Springs in 1771.
The park now serves as well as a place of 9/11 remembrance for the city with the addition of the “Tempered by Memory” sculpture. The 25-foot sculpture was created with five twisted pieces of steel from the World Trade Center by artists John Van Alstine and Noah Savett. The park is now complete with landscaping, planters and two dedicated benches.
“The wind was so strong, twice today at those times, those we lost are always with us,” Floryshak said.