September 19, 2012 - A good size crowd gathered at the Orion Veterans Memorial for Patriots Day on Sept. 11 to pay tribute to emergency first responders (EMS, Firefighters and police) all across America, as well as to reflect on the lives that were lost after the terrorist attacks on New York City's Twin Towers 11 years ago.
Firemen Anthony Geraci and Jeff Powel place a piece of the World Trade Center at the Orion Veteran’s Memorial on Sept. 11. For the full story, please see Page 4. Photos by T. Keiser (click for larger version)
"It was so heart warming to see all the patriots come out and be here and sing with us. Their spirits were with us, their hearts were with us, they are wonderful patriots," said Dr. Joseph Mastromatteo, of the Orion Veterans Memorial. "That's what it takes for our country to be strong and free."
The ceremony included speeches by Mastromatteo, Lake Orion Police Chief Jerry Narsh, Orion Interim Fire Chief Bob Smith and Orion Township Substation Commander Lieutenant Dan Toth of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. The Church Street Singers also led the crowd in singing "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful"
"The cement of freedom is made with the blood of patriots – 9-11 is a constant reminder that we face these threats from foreign enemies," said Narsh in his speech.
Narsh also paid tribute to Officer Patrick O' Rourke, a 12 year veteran of the West Bloomfield Police Department who was shot and killed during a domestic call of shots fired within a home. O'Rourke was married and a father of four girls.
"We are also reminded that not all enemies to American values and our way oflife are from foreign soils," continued Narsh. "We are reminded that the price of freedom is a sacrifice and there is always as debt to be paid. There is always an open invoice for our freedom."
Just as the 3,000 paid on the bill of freedom on September 11, 2001 and as Officer O'Rourke paid on that bill as well, Narsh said Orion area officers, firefighters, and EMT's are willing to pay on that bill as well and protect American values.
"Ladies and gentleman, these folks have already determined the price is worth it, that if called upon, they will pay our debt," he said. "Orion is safe, and so is our liberty and so is America."
Toth said Sept. 11 was day everybody remembers where they were and the recent death of Officer O'Rourke hit home.
"In public safety we don't really think about being in harms way, you couldn't do your job if you thought about that all the time. You just put it in the back of your mind," Toth said. "It certainly hit home today when we were out in front of the fallen Heroes Memorial that there is another name (O'Rourke) and it just happens that quick."
He was also glad Patriots Day recognized what men and women in uniform do every minute of everyday.
"These ceremonies and the citizens that come out is very good for us," added Toth. "It lets us see the support we do have."
"It just means so much to the first responders and all of us and what happened (on Sept. 11), I hope the people don't forget what's gone on," he said. "I still have trouble talking about it. It's just a very emotional day."
Mastromatteo also said how overwhelming it was for all the volunteers that help out at the Veterans Memorial.
"We do this out of our labor of love and for that we're thankful too," he said. "It shows our thankfulness of being a member of the country we love."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.