By Marci Revette Saratogian News
SARATOGA SPRINGS On a chilly, brisk Veterans Day, around 200 people gathered to dedicate the new flagpole and flag donated by the Saratoga Springs Elks Club at the Tempered By Memory 9/11 sculpture in High Rock Park.
Mayor-elect Joanne Yepsen called it a fitting day.
“It’s very appropriate to have this ceremony at the 9/11 site on this day,” Yepsen said. “I will work closely with several organizations to continue to hold ceremonies like these on 9/11.” Yepsen also said she hopes to have blooming landscape at the site year-round.
“We’re looking for Sunnyside Gardens and Saratoga Associates to continue their landscaping,” Yepsen said.
The new flagpole and flag was spearheaded by former pro-golfer and local resident Dottie Pepper, who said she got the idea to initiate several projects after a recent visit to the sculpture and was dismayed by the deteriorating conditions.
“I came up on 9/11 and was appalled,” Pepper said. “It was weed-strewn and neglected.”
She was initially upset with the police and fire departments for not keeping up with the memorial, but added that they have since stepped up their efforts.
“They knew they had dropped the ball,” Pepper said. “The fire department donated trees and installed benches. The landscape was cleaned up. I’m especially grateful to Joe Dolan from the fire department for stepping in right away. He was really instrumental.”
Dolan said he was happy to help.
“Dottie met with us,” Dolan said. “Everyone came together and contributed.”
Past Exalted Ruler of the Elks Club Dave Waghorn gave the dedication speech.
“This is the perfect occasion to honor our first responders,” Waghorn said. “I lost someone as I’m sure many of our residents did, on 9/11. We felt it was important to make something permanent to memorialize the bravery of those first responders on Veterans Day.”
Boy Scout Troop 24 from Wilton attended the ceremony, and troop leader Dave Pelchar said he felt the sculpture and High Rock Park would be a good opportunity for Eagle Scout candidates to do some of their projects.
“We have two candidates right now who are in search of projects,” Pelchar said. “They can build benches, plant trees or even lay gravel. It’s the perfect project.”
Although pleased with the new flagpole, Pepper says she’s is not stopping there. She said she wants to launch the “Never Forget Brick Project” December in which people can lay memorial bricks for loved ones.
“That will help keep this area going,” Pepper said.
She said she is also grateful for the Boy Scouts’ offer to do Eagle Scout projects in the park.
“It will be good to get the Scouts involved,” Pepper said.