Remembering those we lost and the strength of New Yorkers on 9/11
By KATE MOSTACCIO
Our memories of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 are still fresh in our minds 19 years later and today PEF paid tribute to the thousands of lives lost – including 40 PEF members from the state Department of Tax and Finance in New York City and two members from other agencies.
“For all Americans, the phrase ‘9/11’ will evoke a special meaning, a memory of a moment in our history when the world as we knew it changed forever,” said PEF President Wayne Spence at a memorial ceremony at the Tax and Finance office in Albany. “It is fitting that every year on September 11, Americans join together to honor the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died that day.”
A permanent memorial outside PEF Headquarters holds the names of PEF’s fallen brothers and sisters, standing as a reminder that we can never forget. On the anniversary of the attacks, as in years past, PEF vice presidents Randi DiAntonio and Sharon DeSilva read out the names of the fallen followed by a solemn moment of silence.
“Today, in remembering and honoring the memories of the fallen, we resolve to transcend fear, to heal our wounds, and to celebrate the extraordinary heroism and love of that day,” said PEF Secretary-Treasurer Kay Alison Wilkie at the PEF headquarters memorial service.
Wilkie said the events of 9/11 remind us how ordinary people chose duty and self-sacrifice in the face of death and tragedy. Security guards helped guide people out of the buildings as they collapsed around them; firefighters ran toward the disaster and their comrades later searched tirelessly for their own in the rubble; and a spirit of comradery arose in the wake of the attacks as aid and support poured in from around the country and the world.
“The attacks on 9/11 were on our country, our democracy, and our ideals and values,” said Spence. “But, we are still here. One thing is for sure … New Yorkers are resilient. The attacks did not change our resolve or who we are as a country and people.”
PEF reached out to its members in the days and weeks following 9/11 – offering comfort, assistance and vital information to help them cope with the complex emotional, legal and insurance matters, Wilkie said.
Today, Wilkie said, the world is facing another unprecedented reality – the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let us also honor the PEF members having sacrificed their lives to serve during the pandemic this year, and those tens of thousands lost to COVID,” she said. “As we reflect on the events of 9/11, and the recent COVID tragedies, we honor those Americans and friends around the world who taught us to focus away from despair and to see instead the actions of the best of human kind.
“Today, as we remember those lost, let us renew our faith in the kindness of the human spirit,” she said.
PEF union brothers and sisters will never forget and will continue to honor the victims of 9/11.
“I’m sure Americans will be meeting like this every 9/11 for years and years to come, not only to remember those we lost but to remember that duty, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and love still have meaning and still flourish in the hearts of the ordinary people we live and work with every day,” Spence said.