Patriot Day speakers avoid repetition

Representatives of Gym Kids placed a wreath at the Ken Kumpel 9-11 Monument at Chadeayne Circle.

Representatives of Gym Kids placed a wreath at the Ken Kumpel 9-11 Monument at Chadeayne Circle.

Another large crowd showed up for the Patriots Day observance at Chadeayne Circle. The challenge for the speakers was to be relevant without repeating what they had said in the past.

That wasn’t a problem for Susan Kamlet. The president of the historical society was addressing the gathering for the first time. As a young adult, she had witnessed history through the eyes of her grandfather, who remembered the Wright Brothers’ flight and Lindbergh’s crossing the Atlantic.

Mrs. Kamlet urged adults to play the same role for the next generation, so the memory of 9/11 would remain alive. She had been in the Cornwall-on-Hudson Elementary School library when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Seeing the event on television, Mrs. Kamlet called her 89-year-old aunt who lived across the street from the site of the crash. While they were talking, the second plane flew into the building and the noise thundered across the telephone line.

Assemblyman James Skoufis, a regular speaker at Cornwall’s 9/11 rites, was a student in 2001. This year he focused on the aftermath of the tragedy. “That day [Sept. 11] reflected the absolute worst the world had to offer,” he said. “The weeks that followed showed the absolute best in humanity.”

Supervisor Richard Randazzo had taken his seven-year-old son to the Friday night vigil that occurred three days after the attacks. “This world will forever be changed for him and his generation.” Mr. Randazzo thought. But he also realized that Sept. 11 would be remembered as a proud day for the sacrifices that were made.

The crowd on Sunday was second only to last year’s  turnout for the unveiling of the monument to the late Ken Kumpel, a New York City firefighter. At the time, several people said they wished they had known him. So this year, County Legislator Kevin Hines shared a few memories. He spoke of Mr. Kumpel’s love of practical jokes, and of their first meeting when Mr. Kumpel’s newly built house caught on fire while the family was at church. The Highland Engine Company put out the fire and soon accepted the embarrassed homeowner as a new member.

“We here in Cornwall lost one of our own,” Mayor Brendan Coyne said of the late Ken Kumpel. But the mayor also reflected on the resurgence of the area that was attacked. “Lower Manhattan is thriving,” he said. “Where there once were six hotels there are now 28. And 23 million people have visited the site.”

At the end of the ceremony, several youngsters came forward to look at the monument. Two Cub Scouts approached the Kumpel family and asked to have their picture taken with them.

NOTE: The Highland Engine Company hosted the event and served refreshments when it was over. Highland President Kerry McGuinness was the emcee. Pastor Stephen Racite, an active member of the fire company, offered the invocation.  Several agencies placed wreaths at the monument.

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Ken Cashman