STATE COLLEGE — John Corr remembers the boats.
They pulled up to docks along the Hudson River, a few blocks from where he and other volunteers toiled in the smoking rubble of ground zero after the Sept. 11. attacks.
Corr traveled from State College to help rescue and cleanup efforts. New Jersey residents took to the water. They met firefighters who couldnt get needed items quickly enough through official channels a pair of metal cutters, say. Then boaters went shopping across the river.
The lesson, Corr said, was people came together during dark days.
Out of the horror show, there was hope, he said.
Corr spoke Monday about his New York experiences as part of a downtown State College rally launching Williamsport artist Michael Pilatos annual 9/11 vigil at his Inspirations mural along Hiester Street.
Pilato, who grew up in State College, will spend 48 hours continuing his tribute to local people in memory of the lives lost when hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Shanksville field.
The Council for Hope and Healing, a group seeking to raise awareness of child sexual abuse through public art and help the community heal after Jerry Sanduskys trial, sponsored the Painting for Change: Coming Together to Kickoff the 9/11 Vigil rally.
Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach, was convicted in June on 45 counts of sexually abusing boys.
Pilato, a council member, has added 9/11 figures including Jonas Panik, a naval officer and Walker Township resident killed at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 to his mural over the years.
On Monday, Pilato, Corr and community activists talked about rising from the Sandusky trauma and working to protect children and support abuse survivors just as resilient New Yorkers shone after 9/11.
New York City was kicked in the guts. State College was kicked in the guts. How will we respond? Corr said. Will this tragedy change our community for the better?
State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham urged the modest crowd to endorse a community covenant adopted this year at ourcommunityday. org then recalled a saying, Everything good comes out of something bad.
Which is rather shocking when you first hear it, but yet, I have never seen our community so willing to work together, to collaborate and to welcome the organizations that are responding to the distressing events of last year, Goreham said.
Ryan McCombie, a Penn State trustee and former Navy SEAL, paid tribute to fallen 9/11 firefighters and police by remembering his son, Lt. Brandan McCombie, also a SEAL who was killed in action in 2002.
We are blessed with the courage of our people, McCombie said. These men and women died doing something they loved to do. They died doing something they were very good at, and I would submit, they died doing something that was worth doing.
McCombie, referencing the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville, said Americas strength lies in its people, and he praised Centre County residents.
Youre generous with your time, with your money. Youre thoughtful and caring, youre intelligent and loyal, he said. Dont allow anyone to tell you differently. Im proud of Centre County, and Im proud to call you neighbors.
Before a moment of silence and the playing of taps, Corr recalled the new New Yorkers after 9/11, the camaraderie and kindness shown. He hopes State College sees its own transformation.
Will we overcome our devastation and despair and lead a determined effort of healing and rebuilding our community? Im optimistic. I think we will.
Chris Rosenblum can be reached at 231-4620. Follow him on Twitter @CRosenblumNews