PEF remembers those who perished Sept. 11
STORY By DEBORAH A. MILES, PHOTOS By Mayra Eithier
As rain fell, PEF leaders and staff took time out of their day at PEF headquarters to remember and honor those who perished in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
PEF President Wayne Spence citied the times of each plane crash and when the towers collapsed. He said reliving that day in his mind stirs many emotions, and how life has changed for most of us because of terrorism. He also mentioned PEF’s role in helping the families of the victims move forward through the union’s strength and intervention.
PEF’s lead contract negotiator, AFT’s Mark Richard, spoke about the bravery and devotion of the first responders, the firefighters, police and EMTs who ran through the blinding toxic dust and debris to help people. And the teachers who told the children to hold hands as they tried to exit the horrific scene.
“That is what we do as union colleagues, as first responders, as public employees. That’s what we do because we love each other,” Richard said.
PEF Occupational Health and Safety Specialist Geraldine Stella focused on the need for more on-the-job protections for all occupations, and emergency response plans.
“Those are the things unions fight for every day. Those are the things that are being threatened when unions are being threatened,” she said.
PEF Secretary Treasurer Kay Alison Wilke, and PEF Vice Presidents Sharon V. DeSilva and Randi DiAntonio read the names of the fallen members, carved in the PEF memorial monument.
Wilke had shared a quote from Virgil earlier: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”
At the state Department of Taxation and Finance in Manhattan, approximately 120 PEF members held a candlelight ceremony for their co-workers who were killed in the World Trade Center attacks. Each of their names were read aloud, as a candle was lit for every person who perished.
PEF Region 10 Coordinator Bernadette O’Connor, PEF Vice President Adreina Adams, Downstate Director of Field Services/Organizing Nisha Banerjee and PEF Executive Board member and council leader Conrad Davis attended.
The speakers reflected upon the lasting sorrow of that day, and the resolve of people to move forward.
“I encouraged the younger members in the room not to forget about Sept. 11 in the future,” Davis said. “They are the ones who will have to keep the memory alive of that day, who we lost, and what it meant to our country.”