Thank you for your welcome and invitation to again participate in this important service. It is vitally important that Rensselaer County always keep foremost in our thoughts the enormous service and sacrifice of those who have given so much to protect so many.

And we should recognize that Rensselaer County is fortunate to be home to so many willing to step into the path of danger and destruction to serve, protect and even rescue their neighbors. At a time when the worst is shown, our county can rest easy knowing our best will be on the scene.

It has sadly become fashionable to reduce and even attack those in emergency services, particularly our police. We would invite those critics who have such beliefs to simply stop at our county border. Those thoughts are not welcome here. Here in Rensselaer County, we value our emergency services personnel. Know that we have your backs.

Rensselaer County recognizes that those who step forward to provide service – whether you are a police officer, firefighter, ambulance or EMT crew member or emergency services dispatcher – as heroes.

You are heroes. You make a difference. You protect and respond to scenes and situations that sometimes few can imagine. Those of us in county government recognize this fact and also know that we could never fully repay you for the work you are doing.

Today, we make a small but hopefully meaningful attempt to repay some of that debt. We join here today to honor 70 individuals who served and protected our great county. We honor Arthur Ferguson, who gave decades of service to the county and communities he called home. We honor individuals like Wesley Brownell, Frank DiNuzzo, Perry Finkle, Cathleen Jensis and Frank Zwack, among others. Seventy individuals who gave dedicated, brave and valuable service.

All should be recognized individually, but time today makes that difficult. I would ask everyone here to reflect on the service given by those who have passed. When combined, I am sure the service of these individuals honored today is more than several centuries.

What an awesome and powerful legacy. Rensselaer County is fortunate to have been home to these brave men and women and to benefit for their commitment. They leave behind a legacy of service, courage and compassion and if we are fortunate as a county, those who follow in their footsteps will try to match that service.

Thank you also to the families for allowing their loved ones to serve our county. We recognize and understand the sacrifice that went into this service and the years of dedication and commitment. Please know that your service and sacrifice made a difference in the lives of so many.

Our county will recognize the commitment of our emergency services as we move forward with the development of a new county training tower. The new training tower will help train a new generation of heroes and help and support recognize the high standards for training and preparation demonstrated by companies across our county. And our county will continue to utilize technology to support emergency services, including a telemedicine service that will hopefully ensure adequate resources are available for real medical emergencies.

Today, our county is a growing and vibrant place. We have reason for optimism for the future. So much of that momentum is due to the service of those we honor today, and their legacy of quiet dedication and sacrifice, all to protect their neighbors and their community.

Thank you to all who serve today. Thank you as well to the families whose loved ones are added to a place of honor with this ceremony today. Your service is vital and important and will never be forgotten.