September 11 Anniversary: We Will Never Forget
By DEBORAH A. MILES
On the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, hundreds of PEF members reflected upon the tragic events that remain hardwired in our hearts and minds.
At the state Department of Taxation and Finance in Manhattan, an agency that lost dozens of co-workers when the planes hit the Twin Towers in 2001, approximately 200 members attended the memorial observance. And they mourned for their union brothers and sisters from the state Department of Labor and Department of Transportation who also were innocent victims of terrorism.
Spence shared his own personal story noting how his friend, an off-duty law enforcement officer, never returned when he went to help.
“I am sure Americans will be meeting like this every Sept. 11 for years and years to come, not only to remember those we lost, but to remember that duty, loyalty and self-sacrifice still have meaning, and still flourish in the hearts of people we live and work with every day,” Spence said.
Executive Deputy Commissioner at the state Department of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion also spoke. She asked that a moment of silence include Arthur J. Roth, the department’s commissioner at the time of the attacks, who passed away August 6, 2017.
Silence ensued as the names of each victim was read aloud.
A similar event took place in Latham at PEF’s memorial garden where PEF leaders and staff gathered by the monument area lined with yellow and purple mums.
PEF Executive Board member Joe Donahue, a senior administrative analyst at Taxation and Finance, also read the names. People bowed their heads under a sunny sky when Donahue asked for a moment of silence.
“Let us observe a moment of silence as a tribute to those lives cut short and as a symbol of the empty spaces left behind in the hearts of those still living,” he said.
PEF Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Geraldine Stella said, “Years before the 9/11 attacks, there was another bombing at the World Trade Center where people lost their lives. After that, the unions came out demanding changes. Because of those changes, agencies had lighting strips in stairwells and emergency drills. Sept. 11 was one of the worst workplace violence assaults our country has ever seen, and it is a reminder to us all to fight for the rights and safety for all working people.”
Donahue concluded the ceremony saying, “Today we not only remember those we lost, but all those who taught us through their actions what it means to be human. Let us celebrate the kindness of the human spirit, and have faith as I do, that good will not only endure, it will prevail.”