Elaine Lostumbo (right) leads a small remembrance memorial service at the DeWitt 9/11 memorial in 2012.
DeWitt Ever since she was a little girl, Elaine Lostumbo has considered herself to be very patriotic.
“One of my passions in life is encouraging patriotism,” Lostumbo said. “When I was young, my cousin was a priest in Poland, and I remember him telling me, ‘Always be proud to be an American.’ And I’ll never forget what he said.”
Last year, when Lostumbo learned that the town of DeWitt was not holding a 9/11 memorial service for the first time in ten years, she tried to organize it herself, but wasn’t able to put it together on such short notice.
“I didn’t know that there wasn’t going to be a service until a week before – I just couldn’t pull it together,” she said. “But I arrived at the [DeWitt 9/11 Memorial] site at 8:30 a.m., figuring that maybe somebody would come along at the time the first plane hit. Three people showed up and wanted to do a service, so I read a poem, said some prayers and we took a moment of silence. They appreciated it.”
But this year’s event will be a bit different. After DeWitt Police Chief Eugene Conway heard about Lostumbo’s impromptu service, he asked her to co-chair the event for 2013.
“I jumped at the chance,” said Lostumbo, who, along with Anna Marie Alexander and Joe Chiarenza, is co-chairing the 9/11 service this year. “I only missed one service since 2002, and that was a year I had surgery and just couldn’t do it.”
Lostumbo, Chiarenza and Alexander have been meeting every other week since Christmas to ensure that this year’s event will be bigger and better than before. Lostumbo said they’ve made a few major changes that attendees can expect for 2013.
“This year, we’re expanding out,” she said. “We didn’t want to be territorial and we’ve tried to include more people in the immediate area. It used to be just East Syracuse and DeWitt [fire and police departments], but this year we have the Manlius, Fayetteville, Minoa, Jamesville, Kirkville, East Syracuse and DeWitt Fire Departments involved. Also, the East Syracuse, Manlius and DeWitt Police Departments will be there, along with the Army ROTC.”