Sirens sounded in the Town of Highland on May 25, no doubt stirring memories of the sirens signaling the horrific events of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York City. This time, the crowd clustered at the town hall in Eldred awaited the arrival of the first World Trade Center artifact to be awarded in Sullivan County.
Representatives from the Town of Highland picked up the artifact at Kennedy Airport that morning. It was brought to the town hall by an honor guard of fire, police and ambulance service providers and unveiled for the crowd. The transport was coordinated by Bill Hofaker and Norm Sutherland.
The town was awarded the artifact from the NY-NJ Port Authority in response to a request made by supervisor Andy Boyar in January 2010 on the advice of his friend Mauro Giuffrida.
A citizens committee will work on the creation of a monument to be erected at the Highland Town Hall with a target date of September 11. The project will be funded by donations and with donated labor and services. A not-for-profit corporation has been chartered as the “Town of Highland World Trade Center Memorial Fund, Inc.” for purposes of receiving donations, which can be mailed to Dept. 911, Box 91, Eldred, NY 12732.
The monument will be a gift to the town from the people, according to Boyar. It will especially recognize “emergency service providers, past, present and future and the heroes of 911.”
The town is looking for volunteers to help in many areas, including construction of monument footings, moving the existing monuments and restoring them, creation of a site with benches and plantings, installation of a new flag pole and other improvements. The goal is to make Monument Park a special place for quiet contemplation and respect for those who have served or now serve.
A brief ceremony followed the unveiling of the artifact, during which Boyar thanked the many individuals involved so far. “This is a project of and by the people of Highland,” Boyar told the crowd. “It will be a gift to the town from the people of the town as a memorial, but also a celebration of life and country.”
The project will feature a story board where people can share their memories and thoughts. Boyar relayed several of his own, including an account of a family friend who was a firefighter lieutenant. Although off-duty that day, Boyar’s friend headed for the site to help, even commandeering a grocery truck to get to the scene. Once there, he borrowed turnout gear and was seen at the collapse of the first building and later seen helping people get out of the second tower, which collapsed on him. “That’s why we build a monument,” said Boyar. “We all have our reasons. This is going to be a people’s project where we tell our stories.”
Boyar said the town is really coming together around the project and encouraged everyone to get involved. “We’ll need lots of help, so let us know what you can do.” Contact Boyar at 845/557-8901 for more information. Visit
www.riverreporter.com  to see additional photos of the event.