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Eleven Years Later, Peekskill Remembers Sept. 11

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – It has been 11 years since the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, but the events of that day were still fresh on the minds of many Peekskill residents Tuesday at Riverfront Green Park.

"It feels like it was only yesterday," said Peekskill Deputy Fire Chief Jim Howard as he recalled the events of that fateful day.  "The sense of loss, and the void that was created by that senseless act, is as great today as it was 11 years ago."

Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster spoke of the loss of Sam Oitice, a city resident and FDNY firefighter who died in the World Trade Center, and the suffering of first responders like NYPD officer Charlie Wassil, a former Peekskill officer who suffers from the harmful effects of working at the ground zero site. 

"The loss on that day was tremendous, but the continuing loss of first responders due to illness from the toxins on the site that thousands of responders toiled through for months, those losses will still be felt for years to come," Foster said.

Wreaths were placed at the Sam Oitice Heroes Remembered Memorial in honor of those who died in the attacks, including the NYPD, FDNY, Port Authority Police Department and the victims of Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. 

Peekskill Area Pastors Association President Bishop Michael Champion of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Buchanan, talked of his time working as a pastor at ground zero and how it helped him understand God's mercy.

"My reflections came to the great need for an understanding of the mercy of God, the mercy of the creator, despite the great tragedy and great suffering and misery that we each experienced in our lives," Champion said.

The ceremony closed with a performance by Tim Murphy, a local musician who performed a song called “The Fireman's Creed,” which he wrote after the 9/11 attacks.

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