The following is the speech Herbert Geller delivered at the 9/11 ceremonies held at the North Salem Fire Station on Monday. Geller is commander of North Salem American Legion Post 1866. 

“Thank you for attending North Salem’s 9/11 ceremony. This is the 16th year that our town has marked that terrible September day when terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes and crashed them first into the World Trade Center in New York City and then into part of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The passengers and the crew fought back in a fourth plane, Flight 93, and crashed it into an empty field in Shanksville, Pa., killing everyone on board. These heroes and heroines gave their lives to prevent those evil terrorists from destroying the Capitol and the White House.

“Our ceremony today especially honors the victims and the heroes and heroines of 9/11 and the thousands of American servicemen and women who have died fighting terrorists [worldwide]. They died because they were part of our continuing conflict with extremists who would destroy America and kill our people.

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“We have been holding this ceremony for the past 16 years to remind everyone that even though most of us are still living peaceful, happy lives, many other Americans have been killed or greviously wounded by terrorists in the past 20 years.

“The people who lost their lives on 9/11 were mostly innocent victims caught up in an overwhelming tragedy. This was also true of the heroic people like Fire Lt. Vincent G. Halloran, who came to rescue these people.

“The Americans who made the supreme sacrifice in these recent conflicts were our own soldiers, sailors and Marines who have been fighting a vicious, determined enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are all equal in death and we must do all we can to see that they did not die in vain.

“The most we can do to honor the memory of those thousands of dead and wounded is to make sure that more people don’t suffer the same fates of those we mourn today. We must make sure that our enemies don’t continue to kill more innocent men, women and children. We also must make sure that our country will continue to remain safe from the terror that was inflicted by our enemies in Europe during the last few years.

“To do what we must do for America, we must remain united. I know many people blame our government and our political parties for the terrorist attacks during recent years. Blaming each other does no good and it doesn’t help the men and women now serving in the armed forces in dangerous places in the Middle East and other areas.

“In order to remain united and end the threat against America and the world, we should try to copy what we and our allies did in World War II, the war I remember best. We all worked together, Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives, with all races, religions and every income and ethnic group to win the victory that brought about a better world.

“To truly honor the dead on this 16th 9/11 day, we must try to remain united and strive to accomplish the task of achieving victory and peace.”