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911 Remembrances, First Responders, Brothers & Community Vows At Washingtonville Memorial (VIDEOS)

Updated: Sep 13, 2023


We all know of the powerful brotherhood and sisterhood bonds created when lives join to save lives, and to mourn the ones that are not able to be saved. And the community of families to whom it is especially personal, having lost loved ones. This year was a little different. Maybe it's the number of years that have passed, tho there is the pain of losing a loved one that may never end. Maybe there is still a bit of celebratory spirit over COVID not being the emergency it had been. No one in the communities of the Town of Blooming Grove or Village of Washingtonville is going to forget's etched deep in their souls. But there is a softening of the sorrow because of the bonds that have remained and indeed strengthened.

The brotherhood of first responders smiled and laughed as they hugged each other and saluted the American flag with pride. The peace of he beautiful Veterans Memorial Park brings solace. And while there was a bit smaller number of attendees, they were of the most committed..... to America, to their Community, and to each other. These people don't change much. They may have a few more gray hairs, or a little fewer of them and a wrinkle here and there. But they are our ROCK, and wear their maturity beautifully. They are steadfast in their commitment to the community and each other, and it brought a tear or two to many eyes.

Chief John Salka led the ceremony, as he always does. Officially retired now from NYFD, but still active with the South Blooming Grove Independence Fire Company (SBGFD) he never stops. From training group to training group he shares the lessons of survival learned from 911 and all of the fires and emergency events of 2 decades, and it is an astounding wealth of knowledge that has already saved many lives, and his family carries that same endless commitment to service. In the video below you can see Dawn Salka, who has served on the Blooming Grove Ambulance Corps for many years. She translated the ENTIRE ceremony, in sign language and with all the bells and whistles of emotial affect, to their daughter Colleen, who has some special challenges, so that she was able to enjoy the evening as much as the rest of us and her smiles and clapping is every bit as patriotic, which is no surprise given the models in her home.

Father Matthew MacDonald of St. Mary's Church led the opening prayer, reminding the crowd that we only have freedom when there is justice, truth, faith and love.

A troop of Boy Scouts huddled, ready to light the many candles that had been distributed,. That itself was a bit of a challenge since many of the wicks had become damp from yet another bout of folks helped each other and carefully shielded their flames.

Blooming Grove Superisor, Rob Jeroloma catching up with NYPD and other officers with whom he had served for 20 years before becoming Mayor and then Supervisor.

Washingtonville Mayor Tom Devinko spent time chatting with Trustees Jacaruso, Presser and Walski, able to take a brief break from the financial turmoil that highlighted the beginning of their term and is now under control.

With the mood being of recognition and not only mourning those who were lost on 911, but many who are still succombing to related illnesses, the event resulted in new vows of optimism and dedication..... to the tasks at hand of participating in the freedoms that we are so fortunate to have. To volunteer and serve when you can, learn about your community, know your officials (both local and distant), participate in local decision-making, and vote. Our special freedoms will only last if we participate in them actively.

Many veterans were in attendance

John, being the John Salka that he is, ended the ceremony by encouraging everyone present to bring home one of the many flags that lined the walkways, and by thanking the groundspeople and community members for all the work they have done to make and keep the Veterans Memorial Park as lovely as it is.

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