SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Shortly after the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, Jennifer Murawski and her co-workers fled down 30 flights of stairs. That day, the 30-year-old Saratoga Springs resident was in New York City on business with Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance.
Once she made it out of the World Trade Center with an injured ankle, she found refuge in Battery Park.
'I stood and watched and saw gaping holes,' Murawski recalled.
But immediately after 9/11, as the events set in, she couldn't talk about the incident with friends and family. When they asked about her experience, she didn't want to face it.
'I was in shock ... injured,' she said. 'I remember being pretty angry. Why would I want to tell my children?'
For three years, Murawski attended support groups, realizing that her story wasn't only about tragedy.
Instead, it was about the courageous people who helped save her life. As part of the ceremony planned by city officials Saturday, Murawski told that tale to a crowd of around 150 people in Congress Park. Many held American flags, while others tried to hold back tears.
Over time, Murawski has learned to have courage and faith, she said. She finds strength in thinking of the first who arrived at the scene, those who hung flags and shed a tear and the brave men and women in uniform, she said. Loved ones, 2,749 of them, were lost forever, and those physical and emotional scars will last a lifetime, she said.
'Today's about remembering ordinary people,' she said. 'Today is about never forgetting.'
Mayor Mike Lenz also spoke at the 9/11 ceremony, thanking Murawski for her speech. Lenz focused on survivors.
'It's very appropriate that we recognize them on this day,' Lenz said. 'What happened to us on Sept. 11 changed our country.'
Public Works Commissioner Tom McTygue, Deputy Mayor Alicia Wordell and Accounts Commissioner Stephen Towne also attended.
Local clergy, including the Rev. Michelle Ruller from the United Methodist Church and Rabbi Bernard Bloom from the Gates of Heaven Synagogue in Schenectady, offered words of faith.
Bloom said that the events of 9/11 were deliberate and meticulously planned.
'Enemies not only hate their victims, they hate life itself,' Bloom said. 'We cannot respond to the hatred with hatred; loving life means to enhance life.'
Ruller said times like these force us to ponder crisis, tragedy and the unthinkable.
'To understand those things and be a part of so much good in the face of tragedy ... I celebrate the power that lets that happen,' Ruller said.
The Albany Police Pipes and Drums played and Mimi Guay sang and played patriotic songs, including 'Amazing Grace' and 'God Bless America.'
City Hall staff helped plan the remembrance event.
http://www.saratogian.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=12906066&BRD=1169&PAG=461&dept_id=17708&rfi=6©The Saratogian 2004