Trade Center survivor recounts 9/11 at Spa City ceremonyBy Christina Scanlon
September 11, 2014
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Mathew Tully told 200 people who gathered Thursday morning at High Rock Park that they now are connected to someone who was in the World Trade Center when the towers fell.
“Before today, some of you may have not have ever met a 9/11 survivor, somebody that was in the Pentagon, somebody that was in the World Trade Center. After today, you won’t be able to say that,” said Tully during a ceremony at the Tempered by Memory sculpture.
He encouraged the audience to speak with him following the ceremony. Then he detailed his recollections of that day.
At 8:46 a.m., when the first plane hit the north tower, Tully was in the lobby of the south tower, where he worked on the 65th floor for Morgan Stanley.
“Things were falling into the plaza. Windows were breaking,” he recalled. “I did not at 8:46 understand the gravity of the situation. I did know I didn’t want to go up to the 65th floor.”
Instead, he headed out to a 9:30 a.m. court appearance.
He exited the building through the subway system, re-entering street level 13 or 14 minutes later, several blocks away.
From there, “I watched and I saw the building on fire … . I had no clue it was a terrorist attack.”
He continued to the court, where he learned the Pentagon was under attack. Reality, however, was not sinking in.
“I still didn’t realize America was under attack and the American way of life would change for all of us,” he said.
From the courtroom, he watched from the window.
“It was right at that moment that I saw my building collapse. That’s when the gravity of 9/11 sunk in for me. That’s when I realized America was at war,” he said, adding, “I knew I had to report for duty.”
Tully was dressed in his military uniform by 8 p.m. and for the next week, with 20-hour days, worked as a National Guard liaison with New York City Police Department. He then worked at Ground Zero as an operations officer for the National Guard.
“As you all know, there have been two wars. One war in Afghanistan and arguably, a few years later, another war in Iraq.”
He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, retiring in May after being injured by a suicide bomber.
“My course of life changed because of 9/11,” he said.
He urged the audience to not only remember those that died, but also the survivors.
“There’s tens of thousands of them that were in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center that suffer to this day,” he said.
Mary Beth Delarm was in attendance at the ceremony. Her life also changed greatly after the attacks. She was driven to volunteer with the Red Cross at Ground Zero after fundraising locally, she said, “because there was nothing left I could do on the homefront.”
Today, she still volunteers with the Red Cross, responding to disasters all over the country.
She spent October 2001 in New York City washing dust and debris from rescue works, while also offering meals and a sympathetic ear.
“Being compassionate to others helps yo heal,” she said.
During the ceremony, two male students with the Saratoga Springs High School Choraliers fainted, resulting in an ambulance arriving at the scene. The student were reported to have recovered at the scene.
The sirens and emergency responders called for the students triggered emotion in Delarm, she said.
“One thing 9/11 reminds us of that we must remember,” she said, “is to be resilient in the midst of our free country, while terrorism thrives.”
The remembrance ceremony was organized by a committee established almost immediately after Mayor Joanne Yepsen took office in January.
The event is the first held at the park since the 2012 installation of the 25-foot tall sculpture, created from twisted metal from Ground Zero.
Yepsen said she plans to make the ceremony an annual event.