SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: September 15, 2005
Ceremony commemorates 9-11-01
NATICK, Mass. -- Renewed patriotism, heroism and sacrifice were key themes when the Soldier Systems
Center (SSC) work force gathered in Hunter Auditorium on Sept. 9 to pay tribute to lives lost and
honor those who continue to fight the war against terror during a remembrance program for 9-11-01.
After a moving rendition of the national anthem by Trooper Dan Clark, now retired from the
Massachusetts State Police, guest speakers Fire Lt. Neil Skow, New York Fire Department, and Denise
Cooney, a paramedic from New Jersey, shared their stories. Both individuals were at Ground Zero on
Skow, who has been with the fire department in New York for 28 years, currently works for Hazmat
Company 1, which lost 19 men on Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, Skow, who is also a Colonel in the
U.S. Army Reserve, was working for Ladder Company 2, which lost 10 men. Cooney has been an EMS for
18 years. She still works in Patterson, N.J., where she was working on Sept. 11.
Cooney said she couldn’t believe her eyes when the towers came down. “It was like a Grade B movie,
something from World War II.” She continued by commenting that the news cameras could not capture
the proportion of the catastrophe that was unfolding.
The wonderful thing that she said came out of Sept. 11, was that so many people came together to
provide help and hope. Americans renewed their pride in their country. Cooney said that as we come
together four years later to remember what has been lost, we need to remember what we have gained.
We have gained compassion, insight, selflessness, and the ability to love one another.
Skow said it’s still hard for him to talk about his experiences of the day and this is only the
third time he’s done it since 9-11.
He talked about being at the mechanics and seeing the first tower on fire, and thinking it was the
Sci-Fi network or some movie and then realizing it was CNN. He found out that his Ladder Company
had responded. He went home, got his gear and tried to get into the city. He met up with a convoy
of firefighters and they were headed into the city when they realized the huge plume of smoke they
could see was the World Trade Center.
Skow said the first couple of days at the site were a “madhouse.”
“There was nothing you could recognize,” he said. “Plenty of paper, but how with two 110-story
buildings could there not be one piece of furniture left? Not one desk, one computer, one portrait.”
Skow said he will never forget his friends that were there [at World Trade Center].
He had recently returned from Iraq and Skow commented about how many young Marines came up and
talked to him about the NYFD flag on his HMMWV.
Skow closed his comments by saying how proud he is to serve his country, both as a part of NYFD and
as a military officer. He told the audience to “never forget how great this country is.”
Col. Dorothy Johnson, SSC’s deputy commander, said it is important to take the time to honor those
who gave that day and those who have been giving ever since. She used the words of Brig. Gen.
Vincent Brooks, Chief of Public Affairs for the Army, saying, “Remember it [9-11] as a day of
horror, but also as a day of honor.” Johnson continued that she also saw Sept. 11, 2001, as a
ebirth of American spirit.
Clark performed a medley of songs including the service songs, during which he asked those
currently serving, or who served, or who supported those who served, to stand up and be recognized
for their service. As each group stood, the employees in the rest of the audience applauded.
The ceremony also included a slideshow of various pictures from Sept. 11, the tolling of 11 bells
and the playing of taps. Clark ended the event by having the audience join him in singing
“God Bless America.”
Employees who attended said it was a “very good, very emotional” ceremony.
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