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Orleans remembers Sept. 11

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Andrew Muscari, a Holley police officer, lights a candle in memory of the 60 police officers who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

A Mercy Flight helicopter from Batavia prepares to land next to the Elk’s Club in Albion just before a Sept. 11 memorial service.

ALBION – Twelve years after terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people on American soil, the first responder community in Orleans County gathered today for a memorial service at the Elk’s Club in Albion.

Larry Montello, a member of the American Legion, coordinated the memorial service for the 10th straight year. He said firefighters, police officers, medics and other first responders are “true heroes.” They charged into danger after the World Trade Center towers were hit by airplanes full of jet fuel.

“Fanatics can crumble our buildings to the ground, but they can never triumph over the American spirit,” said State Assemblyman Steve Hawley. “We are the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Hawley spoke about the country’s strength, as a land of religious freedom and opportunity, and how that sometimes incites hatred from other countries. The United States continues to revel in its cultural diversity, refusing to bow to bigotry and hatred, Hawley said.

Montello has been determined to keep the memorial service going, and he invites first responders from throughout the county, members of fire departments, ambulance squads, law enforcement and Mercy Flight.

Other communities have stopped doing the memorial services, particularly after the 10th anniversary of the attacks two years ago, State Sen. George Maziarz noted.

He praised the Legion and the many agencies for continuing to pause on Sept. 11 to remember the victims from the terrorist attacks.

“I’m honored and proud to serve Orleans County in the State Senate,” he said.

John Ulmen, a member of the U.S. Navy, speaks during today’s Sept. 11 memorial service at the Elk’s Club in Albion. Ulmen served a tour of duty in Iraq. Larry Montello, right, organized the memorial service for the American Legion. State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, left, and State Sen. George Maziarz spoke at the service.

County Legislator Don Allport addressed a crowd of about 50 people, telling them he is “disgusted” that U.S. and state leaders “are systematically taking our rights away.” Allport said the country needs to seal its borders to keep out terrorists.

“We are the most compassionate country in the world, but when we are pushed we will fight back,” Allport said.

John Ulmen of Kendall works as the Rite Aid manager in Albion. After the Sept. 11 attacks, he enlisted in the Navy and served 14 months of active duty, including seven months in Camp Fallujah, Iraq.

Ulmen said U.S. military personnel are deployed around the world, performing critical missions every day.

“I can tell you that today, wherever they may be, they feel a sense of pride and satisfaction that they are standing the watch for all of you,” said Ulmen, whose son Jacob has joined the Navy.

There will be vigil at 6 p.m. today by the Sept. 11 memorial by the Orleans County Courthouse. That memorial was dedicated two years ago.

John Leggat and his horse Nino carry a flag-draped casket during a memorial service today at the Elk’s Club at Albion.