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‘Hope for the future’: 9/11 remembered in annual ceremony

By Staff | Sep 20, 2019

Steve Roberts, of the USMC, spoke at the 9/11 ceremony about his experience from inside the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. Toni Milbourne

RANSON — Independent Fire Company in Ranson once again hosted its annual remembrance ceremony dedicated to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as those who have continued to fight the fight against terrorism.

The annual ceremony began the year after the attacks destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; destroyed a portion of the Pentagon, in Washington, D.C., and resulted in the death of hundreds aboard a plane that crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa.

Dr. Henry Christie once again headed up the event.

“In the days before radio, different bell sequences were used in many cities to alert firefighters as to the area of the alarm. The sequence of three sets of five tones was used in some jurisdictions to signify a fallen firefighter,” Christie told the large crowd gathered for the 9:58 a.m. ceremony.

Dave Swan sounded the bells during the ceremony.

Tones were sounded with the ringing of the bells in remembrance of lives lost, at the Independent Fire Company's 9/11 ceremony on Sept. 11. Toni Milbourne

Christie said the significance of hats upon a table at the event, represented individuals from various groups who were killed in the terrorist attacks. In addition to firefighters, of which there were 343 lost in the attacks, United and American airlines caps represented civilians lost. More than 2,500 deaths were reported between New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, where a third plane involved in the attacks and headed for another target in Washington, D.C. was forced to the ground by passengers who stormed the cockpit. Police officers were represented by a Port Authority hat. Military personnel were also represented, as 55 members of the military were killed in the Pentagon, as well as many more in the ensuing war on terror. Added to the collection this year was a framed photo of Lady Liberty at Ground Zero in New York City, representing the lives lost since the tragedy from clean-up efforts.

Harpers Ferry resident Steven Roberts, of the USMC, was in the Pentagon the day the plane hit. According to Roberts, his day started out basically as most other days, with one exception.

“I was anticipating the birth of my son,” Roberts said. “He was past-due, and I was waiting for a call.”

In his office within the Pentagon, he and his co-workers heard of the first plane that hit the South Tower.

“We thought it was a horrible accident,” Roberts sad. “When the second plane hit, we realized it was not.”

Robert’s office was on the opposite side from where the third plane struck.

“There was an evacuation order, and we could see the fires and smell smoke and jet fuel, as we walked through the courtyard. We could see the destruction of one of our nation’s finest symbols,” Roberts said. “We had just been punched in the mouth.”

“We were a ‘United States,’ a united culture. We were united as Americans, and the world was united with us,” Roberts said. “Today, we remember those who have their lives. No society can function without those who look to serve -whether serving family, community or country.”

On Sept. 13, Roberts’ son was born.

“He was a symbol of hope for the future,” Roberts said.

The Jefferson High School Junior ROTC presented colors, and the Washington High School Chamber Choir performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” Taps was played by Leila Mallamas and Julian Patoray, Air Force Junior ROTC. Bagpiper Joe Kent performed “Amazing Grace” and “Going Home.”