More than 100 people turned out Tuesday morning to share in an annual remembrance service hosted at Independent Fire Company in Charles Town. The company began hosting the event the first year following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon to honor and remember those who gave their lives that day.
Joe Kent plays 'Amazing Grace' on bagpipes during the ceremony.
Dr. Henry Christie, event organizer, said, "We pause today to remember those killed in the attacks." He went on to explain that three sets of bells are rung at the start and end of the ceremony signifying the loss of life of a firefighter.
In addition to firefighters, of which there were 343 lost in the attacks, Christie went on to share that hats on the table near the podium represented other groups who lost lives that day. The United and American airlines caps were for the civilians lost. Over 2,500 deaths were reported between New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania where a third plane was forced to the ground by passengers who stormed the cockpit. Police officers were represented by a Port Authority hat. Casualties were 37 as well as one canine for the Port Authority as well as 23 for the NYPD and one for the secret service. Military personnel were also represented as Christie explained that 55 members of the military were killed in the Pentagon as well as many more in the ensuing war on terror.
"While a hole in the ground in Pennsylvania is now a memorial and the Pentagon has been repaired and a new building rises at Ground Zero," Christie said, "the empty picture frame signifies the hole in the hearts of those who lost loved ones that can never be filled."
Ed Hannon, deputy director for the Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency, served as speaker for Tuesday's event. At the time of the attacks, Hannon worked for the Arlington County Fire Department, from where he has since retired. Hannon was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
While he could have shared stories of the horrors he witnessed, Hannon chose instead to comment on the result of the devastation instead.
"The support and unity of this nation was not what Osama Bin Laden had expected," Hannon said. He shared how he viewed the joining of forces of all walks of life to stand in support of the country and to help one another. He likened it to a similar experience he faced when traveling to areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In closing, Hannon called for the local community to re-build that unity and join together to overcome problems and issues at a local level. While the country has been hit by difficult economic times and concern over national finances, a shift from unity and joint efforts can be seen.
"Does it take devastation to create unity? Does it need to be nationwide? What about right here in our community," Hannon challenged. "We can choose to build that type of unity in our own community," he said.
Joining in the ceremony were the Jefferson High School JROTC who posted the colors for the event. Freshman Alex Ouiment joined Mark Johnson, BSA Troop 82, in a duet of "Taps." Performing the National Anthem and God Bless America was Washington High's Haelly Ramirez. As has been present in each yearly remembrance ceremony, bagpiper Joe Kent performed "Amazing Grace" and concluded the ceremony with "Going Home."