The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, was crisp and clear. I was in New York City to help complete a bond sale in my duties as mayor of the city of Rome and had tickets to watch my favorite team, the New York Yankees, play against their longtime rival, the Boston Red Sox.

However, everything changed that day as I and countless others watched in confusion and horror as planes struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center complex in what we later learned was an act of terror.

With ash blanketing buildings in lower Manhattan and smoke billowing everywhere, I watched as brave first responders rushed to the scene to help those in need. It was a chaotic scene.

Slowly, our collective shock and fear subsided and turned into resolve. People stepped forward to help strangers. First responders risked life and limb to help those trapped in the rubble and millions of Americans offered what they could — clothing, blankets, food and donations — to help the families of victims suffering from this tragedy.

More than 3,000 people died on Sept. 11. Almost two decades later, I still have not forgotten the strength and courage shown by the families of those who perished.

Despite the passage of time, it is important that we continue to remember, reflect and reconnect with what happened on that fateful day in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pa. You can do so by participating Sept. 11 memorial commemorations that will be taking place in communities across the state. I encourage you to attend one of these moving, touching and poignant ceremonies.

I hope you will join me in remembering and honoring the lives of those who were lost on that tragic day and continuing to demonstrate that we remain the strongest, most compassionate and most resilient nation in the world.

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, represents the 47th District for the New York State Senate. He may be reached locally through his Utica office at 315-793-9072, by email at or through his website,


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(2) comments


I was an E5 in the 54th QM Company (Mortuary Affairs) at Fort Lee, Virginia. Tuesday morning was our motor stables day, so I was airing up a truck tire when my platoon sergeant came and told me that a couple of airliners had been flown into the World Trade Center by terrorists, likely killing thousands of people. I thought it was a preposterous premise for a training exercise, and in poor taste, but started the process of dispatching my truck for a convoy, probably to Fort Pickett. Lunch came, and I went to the PX to get a haircut, and then I saw the footage on TV. Then the company started a series of chalks, driving up I-95 to the Pentagon. I was in one of the last chalks, and when I arrived it looked like a huge campsite. Every kind of agency had tents and compounds set up on the lawn outside the big smoking gap in the building. We were operating out of a city bus, where we were divided into litter teams of four soldiers, all suited up in hazmat gear. An FBI agent would come call for the next team by number and we would get a litter and follow the agent into the building to dig a remains out of the rubble and take it to the refrigerator van. Most of the work was done at night, and I hadn't adapted yet, so I was dozing off in the bus between trips. I woke up to see a private driving a gater around with one of my subordinates riding in the trailer. They were smiling and laughing and the vehicle bumped into a fire department generator. I felt this was not only disrespectful but also unsafe, so I ran out and chewed out both soldiers, which was very uncharacteristic of me. A lieutenant had to call me away and cool me down. We were all under a lot of stress, he said, and we all dealt with it differently. That soldier had been in the first chalk and had seen a lot. I was put on day shift, raking over debris in the parking lot across the street. The soldier I had chewed out volunteered for Afghanistan. What does this mean? Sometimes things don't mean anything. Sometimes things don't make any sense at all.

Holmes -- the real one

Oh my. What a recollection. I can only imagine.


I was in NYC and just finished rounds.

Near where I was standing, a Pakistani locum tenens provider was chatting on her cell phone in Urdu laughing about the strike on the twin towers which had just occurred, "....they deserve it, now they will know what it's like."

She had no idea that I was eavesdropping and understood what she was saying.

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