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1,000 attend local 9/11 memorial

September 12, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A hush fell over a Municipal Stadium lighted only by the glow of candles and a spotlight that illuminated a large American flag flying over right field Wednesday night.

More than 1,000 people, including police officers, firefighters and elected officials, stood in silence with candles in hand, as the Community Choir sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth" to end the two-hour Sept. 11 Remembrance Event organized by the City of Hagerstown and the Washington County government.

While the call for peace was a theme throughout the ceremony, those who took participated also asked those in attendance to never forget the thousands who died in the terrorist attacks of a year ago and the heroes who lost their lives rescuing the thousands who survived.

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They also thanked local and national law enforcement officers, members of the military, firefighters and other emergency rescue personnel who continue to carry out their duties despite the risks.

"Police officers aren't a whole lot different than anyone else," Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith said. "They get married, have children ... What's makes them different is the job they do."

"I think it's a group that we all owe a little thanks to," Smith said.

Joe Kroboth, the county's director of emergency services, said fire and rescue personnel responded to the attacks "without question" and "without fear," and that Washington County's emergency service providers would do the same for local residents.

He said that if acts of terrorism were to happen again in the United States, the county can rely on emergency personnel to respond.

"If we're going to live in the land of the free, you need to stop and thank the brave," said U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook, who spoke on behalf of the commissioners, said the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks taught the world not to take freedom for granted.

But he also said it brought about a "don't tread on me" attitude and a sense of togetherness.

Other speakers included Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner, Robert Glausier, president of the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County, the Rev. Valerie Wills of the Washington County Council of Churches and Chief Gary Hawbaker of the Hagerstown Fire Department.

Hagerstown Public Information Manager Karen Giffin said planning for the event began about a month ago.

"The City of Hagerstown wanted to put on a remembrance program, and we thought the best way to do that ... is work with the community," Giffin said.

She said many residents, businesses and organizations made donations or offered to volunteer for the program.

"I can't even begin to state how much help we had," Giffin said.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said that it was proper and fitting to hold a day of remembrance.

"Let it bring out the best in each of us of all of us," said Munson, who urged support for the fight against terrorism.

"The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. This is no time for complacency, for the terror will strike again," Munson said.

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