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Eight years later, Boonsboro remembers

September 11, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

BOONSBORO -- Boonsboro carved a chunk out of its small-town schedule to remember the 2001 day when terrorism penetrated America.

Firetrucks and ambulances crept along Main Street, a cavalcade of red, yellow and blue flickering lights.

They passed the school complex, where a crowd was gathered for the evening's high school football game.

People gathered in pockets to witness the caravan -- fathers with sons, children clutching plastic bags they hoped to fill with wrapped candy tossed their way.

Already, eight years have passed since New York City and Washington, D.C., were attacked and close to 3,000 people were killed -- more years than the youngest parade observers have been alive.

Kate Bomberger explained some of that cataclysmic day to her 8-year-old grandson, Kai. Then, they watched the parade of Washington County's first responders from her porch, a stone's throw from the road.

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Bomberger was living in Beltsville, Md., watching Katie Couric, when news of the first plane crash reached TV.

"The cynic in me said, 'Is this an attack?' and within minutes, the second plane hit, and we knew," she said.

Bomberger said Kai asked why paraders toss candy toward bystanders.

"Whatever it takes to get people to come out," she said.

As she thought more about Sept. 11, Bomberger fought back tears.

"I don't think that we, as a people, will ever get over it," she said.

At 6:30 p.m., firetrucks from Boonsboro, Sharpsburg and Potomac Valley lined up near Weis Market, waiting to step off.

"After seeing what happened eight years ago, I joined the military to try to defend the freedoms that we have," Roger Mitchell said, walking to a Humvee.

He served in the Navy aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, home ported in Everett, Wash. Now, he's an Army National Guard specialist, drilling with the 243rd Engineer Co. in Cumberland, Md.

A Hagerstown Fire Department member, Mitchell said, "I try to do as much as I can for my community."

Bryan Stallings, an emergency dispatcher and the deputy chief of Washington County's Emergency Rehab Unit, said he remembered walking into the Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Co. station on Sept. 11.

After seeing a few minutes of World Trade Center footage, Stallings and three other Long Meadow members were sent to a house fire -- unsure what to expect as the world turned upside down.

"It was a very eerie feeling that morning," he said.

The start of Friday's parade was fruitful for 4-year-old Matthew Summers, 4-year-old Paige Sluzalis and 3-year-old Noah Sluzalis. They had candy on their minds and no competing children around.

"I think it's still a day that pulls at your heartstrings," said Angela Sluzalis, Paige's and Noah's mother.

It was good to take a break from the TV coverage and see community volunteers on parade, through children's eyes, said Suzy Summers, Matthew's mother.

"The excitement they get from seeing the firetrucks ... it kind of lifts your spirits," she said.

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