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Rensselaer County Emergency services memorial ceremony

Reported by: Julie Tremmel

Videographer: B. Sanders
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Updated: 10/08/2012 6:04 am

If you've ever been in an emergency situation, and had to call 911 for help, you know the value the service rescue and law enforcement workers provide.

On Sunday Rensselaer County officials held a moving memorial service to honor those public servants who have died over the course of the past year.

The annual ceremony isn't just in honor of those rescue and law enforcement workers who have died in the line of duty, rather it pays tribute also to those who have passed away by any means after having served their community with such selflessness before they died.

The hour and a half long service was held at the Bulmer Telecommunications Center on the Hudson Valley Community College campus in Troy.

One by one the names of 88 police, fire officials, and emergency workers were read aloud followed by the ringing of a brass bell.

"Steve Clemons, Postenkill Fire Department…" a speaker at the podium said as he went through the list.

Each name represented a dedicated Rensselaer County service professional who died in the past year, and a lot of pain for those left behind.

Throughout the crowd tissues dabbed tears that flowed freely down the faces of mourning family members and friends.

The memorial service, complete with bagpipe players and the ceremonial folding of an American flag, was quite emotional, bringing some very raw feelings back to the surface.

Kimberly Lourinia attended to pay tribute to her great uncle Lawrence Maskell.

"He was in the fire departments for Defreesville, Wynantskill, North Greenbush and Rensselaer," Lourinia said.

After looking around the auditorium, she said she is grateful for all of those who put their lives on the line with as much dedication as her great uncle did.

"Absolutely, every day I remember tons of holidays, he always had his pager on him and he was always listening for the calls to go off because when you do it, it's in your blood," she said.

And when asked if it was 'in his blood,' Lourinia choked back tears saying, "It was in his blood, yes."

Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino said, "It's paramount that we be able to provide for our citizens protection for their property, and for their lives. And that's what these people that we're honoring today have done over the course of their lifetime."

Jimino continued, "They give a lot of their own lives, and a lot of their own time. Time away from family and friends, time away from holidays, and football games, and we just want to let their family and loved ones know that we respect them and we value that service."

Crystal Pierce was here to remember her daughter, 30-year-old Robin Pierce Kessler, a mother of three.

The Hoosick Falls Rescue Squad member was killed in a car crash back in January.

When asked how important a ceremony like this is, and what it means to bring family and friends together to remember Robin, Pierce said, "It is very important."

And while pointing to the one-year-old in her arms, and a seven-year-old clinging to her left leg she said, "These are her children, her babies. One of them is not here; she's at a birthday party. It's very important. It meant a lot to her to be on the rescue squad."

When asked how she was coping with the loss, Pierce's eyes filled with tears and she said, "We're hanging in there."

Pierce's grand daughter, seven-year-old Reagan Kessler said she was happy 'they lit a candle' for her mom on Sunday, adding that she said 'a little prayer' in her heart to her late mother.

When asked if she had told her mother she 'loved and missed her' in that prayer, young Reagan nodded her head, and added "This means a lot to me," about the remembrance ceremony for her mom.

Many of the men and women who were honored on Sunday were lifelong members of one department or another, literally dedicating 40 or 50 years to helping their community.

And Jimino says those years of service weren't just spent just at the respective stations they each worked at, but also by participating in fundraisers and doing volunteer work around the Rensselaer County.

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