Citizens continue to remember 9/11
RANSON – For 16 years, individuals have gathered on Sept. 11 at 9:58 a.m. at Independent Fire Company in Ranson to remember those who lost their lives in 2001, when terrorists carryed-out attacked on U.S. soil.
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 lost their lives that day.
Dr. Henry Christie, the event’s organizer, again took the opportunity to explain that three sets of five bells are rung at the start and end of the ceremony, signifying the loss of life of a firefighter. Jeff Plautz sounded the solemn bells to begin Monday’s ceremony.
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. More than 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, 23 for the NYPD and one for the secret service. 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.
Guest speaker this year was Dr. Karan Powell, president of American Public University, who was in Manhattan the day of the disaster.
Powell spoke about how she had been scheduled to have a meeting in one of the Twin Towers, but was running late. In the city for a conference with her job, she shared that as events began unfolding, the conference stopped and all attending watched on a big screen television what was taking place across the city.
“The whole day was a blur,” she said. “People were trying to contact family. We were victims as to what was on TV, and I wasn’t that far from it.”
Powell then spoke about the experience in Manhattan later that evening.
“You know Times Square; that’s where I was staying,” she said. “That night, there were no lights, no people. It was silent. The sounds we heard were of military planes, helicopters and sirens, and it stayed that way into the next day.”
Powell said that it took three days for her to be able to leave New York City. Even then, there were no taxis and she and her colleagues had to walk five blocks to Penn Station, carrying their luggage – as luggage then didn’t have wheels, she laughed.
“The terror it creates in the heart and soul also creates a courage,” she said. “I was so grateful for freedom, safety, family, friends, first responders … that gratitude is deep.”
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 Marie Gray and Julian Patoray, Air Force Junior ROTC. Additionally, as has been present in each yearly remembrance ceremony, bagpiper Joe Kent performed “Amazing Grace,” and “Going Home.”