September 11 remembered in solemn ceremony
More than 100 people gathered at Independent Fire Company in Ranson Friday morning to commemorate the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
The fire company began hosting the annual 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.
The invocation was delivered by Dr. Brian Hotaling, pastor of Charles Town Baptist Church.
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 explained 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.
“There’s a hole in the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania that will be there forever,” said Christie. “And there’s a hole in the lower west side of New York-Manhattan Island is a memorial, and the rest has been rebuilt. The Pentagon has been rebuilt. But the hole in the hearts of the loved ones of victims that day will remain as long as they live.”
Senior Master Sargent, Jeff Gengler, Fire Chief, 167thAirlift Wing served as the special speaker for the event.
Gengler said he was sent from Baltimore to Georgia in the month following the attack to await deployment. He described the scene of his travel on I-95 from Moody Air Force Base back home to see his family.
“There were flags all over the place. Flags on bridges. “Thank you” on bridges. Cups in fences along high schools that had “Thank you, we love the military” [written on them]. This isn’t just commentary from me. It’s a fact. And today they burn flags.”
He went on to say “We’ve gone from a nation who thought firefighters, military and cops were heroes, to cops being shot in the back while they’re eating.”
In closing, Gengler said that the older people can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing on the day of the attacks 14 years ago, and that it’s up to the older generation to teach the younger ones so that this tragedy is not forgotten.
The Jefferson High School Junior ROTC presented colors, and the Washington High School Chamber Choir performed the National Anthem and God Bless America. Taps was played by Mitchell Eddy, Air Force Junior ROTC, and as has been present in each yearly remembrance ceremony, bagpiper Joe Kent performed “Amazing Grace” and concluded the ceremony with “Going Home.”