Many Central New Yorkers this weekend might pause and reflect on the events of 15 years ago when terrorists used airliners to kill nearly 3,000 people. The 21-foot, 6-ton steel column from the World Trade Center in front of DeWitt town hall is a constant reminder of that horrific day in 2001. The tragedy hits close to home for DeWitt Town Supervisor Ed Michalenko.
"The reach and the impact to different communities and different families throughout the country is quite profound," Michalenko said. "Everyone has some type of connection...you either know somebody or you know somebody that knew somebody that was impacted that day. I myself lost my brother-in-law."
Michalenko says his brother-in-law was working for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st through 105th floors in World Trade Center One. That was 2 to 6 floors above the impact zone.
"I suspected right away that it was terrorism," Michalenko said, his voice shaking with emotion. "So we convened as a family and tried to get down to New York City as fast as possible. Basically, it was a feeling of hopelessness and shock."
Cantor Fitzgerald lost 658 employees that day, or two-thirds of its workforce…among the most of any tenant. Michalenko is heading to New York City for the remembrance ceremony Sunday, where he says it will be a chance to reconnect and grieve.
"Certainly theres sadness, certainly there's grief," Michalenko said. "But there's also that bonding with others that experienced the same thing, and certainly as a country. It helped draw people together."
Michalenko hopes the town hall memorial and the ceremonies across the state and nation are a reminder never to forget what happened and why.
"There's a whole new generation coming up," Michalenko said. "History repeats itself, and people need to understand these things, and the situations and circumstances that bring them on so that we can do better as world, a society, and a community to prevent these things."
DeWitt's 9/11 remembrance ceremony will be held Sunday from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. in front of town hall.