Local News

Never Forget – Area First Responders Honor Those Who Have Died On And After 9/11


It has been 22 years since the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington DC, and in Shanksville PA, it will be a day never forgotten and one that will honor those who swore to serve and protect.

Despite the heavy rain, first responders from Cortland County and surrounding counties along with dozens of residents of the Cortland area joined together at the 9/11 Memorial at Courthouse Park in the City of Cortland.

Veteran and founder of Veteran’s Search and Rescue (VETSAR) Norm Stitzel began the remembrance ceremony with the raising of the flag followed by the national anthem. City of Cortland Fire Department Chaplain Al Ferguson gave an invocation to the crowd.

This year, the remembrance ceremony honored 9/11 victim Chief Thomas Wutz, who died earlier this year from cancers related to his Ground Zero deployment. Chief Wutz began his fire career in 1968 for the Williamsville Fire Department before becoming a member for the Schoharie Fire Department from 1972-86, being chief from 1975-1980. In Colonie, he was an active member of the Midway Fire Department until 2000. He additionally had a 31 year career with the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control, retiring in 2011 and Chief of the Fire Service Bureau.

Chief Wutz was immediately deployed to Ground Zero to work the incident management team, this work attributing to his illness and later death.

“As a chief of the Fire Services Bureau with the New York State Fire Prevention and Control. Tom had a direct impact on the Cortland Community. Chief Wutz oversaw many of the training programs that are not only the basis for training across the state, but also here in Cortland County.” Stizel said to the crowd as he spoke in remembrance of Chief Wutz.

A total of six rings from a bell were rung during the ceremony, one ring for each plane, one bell for each of the towers, and one for the fire department, police department and first responders of 9/11, and one ring for all of those who had died since 9/11.

Guest speaker during yesterday’s event was Keith Cartica, Battalion Chief for the FDNY. He is a 42 year member of the fire department serving the North Bronx. Cartica noted the FDNY’s wall of remembrance has added another 43 names of those who have died from 9/11 related illness’.

“As of Thursday of last week, that number is now up to 341 people. On 9/11 we lost 343. We are soon going to be passing the number of individuals who were lost on 9/11.” Cartica said on reflecting the ongoing effect that day has to many families and communities.

He continued to note only 60% of those who died on 9/11 have been identified at Ground Zero, 40% remain still unaccounted for.

“This year marks 22 years, as time goes on people forget. We must never forget. Today and every 9/11 we will continue to attempt to educate, motivate and inspire. So that we and those generations that follow will never forget.” Norm Stizel said as the remembrance ceremony came to a close.


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