Originally published in The Times Herald-Record on Sunday, November 11, 2001

  America's renewed sense of community was apparent to Donna Kirby on Sept. 13. By then, word had spread throughout Scotchtown that her 21-year-old son Chris - a carpenter on the South Tower's 107th floor - was among the missing.
   The phone rang constantly, carrying messages of hope and support. Friends, family and strangers showed up at the door, offering whatever they could.
    "I couldn't believe so many people could find the time in their busy lives to be there for us," said Kirby. "Because they kept my son in their prayers, I'll always keep them in mine."
But the support the Kirbys received was not unique. Similar events were unfolding throughout the region, indeed, throughout the country.
    In the weeks after Sept. 11, attendance at candlelight vigils would dwarf annual homecoming games. The small towns of Orange County suffered greatly - Washingtonville lost five of its own; Warwick lost eight - but communities responded in solidarity.
    In Monroe, 600 hundred would show up bearing candles to honor missing bond trader Thomas Dowd. Crowds at firefighter funerals overflowed the region's largest churches. Like others across the nation, locals posted flags in support.
Many said they noticed themselves stopping to greet strangers. Washingtonville police Chief Steve Pascal saw people treating his officers differently, with less suspicion, with more respect.
    But community spirit wasn't limited to those directly affected.
    Locals received phone calls, e-mails and money from places as far off as France and Australia. Businesses, governments and individuals from Monticello, to Walker Valley, to Stone Ridge collected huge piles of goods and supplies for relief workers. The Sullivan County United Way received more than $40,000 for its Sept. 11 fund. That's about 57 cents for every man, woman, or child in the county.

Brendan Scott

© 2001 Orange County Publications, a division of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., all rights reserved.