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New Yorker shares memories of Sept. 11

September 13, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa.-- Warren Kozak's words are wrapped in pride as he talks about being a New Yorker, something he says everyone became in the period immediately after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Kozak shared memories from that day and the weeks following during the Service of Remembrance held Sunday at Letterkenny Chapel. He also compared lessons learned in his World War II research to what happened in New York City, at the Pentagon and aboard Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa.

The most important lesson, he said, is that one person can make a major difference in the world.

"There must've been one passenger on that flight who stood up and everyone followed," Kozak said. "Because of them, either our Capitol building stands today or the White House. Those would've been terrible symbols to lose."

The United Churches of the Chambersburg Area hosted the memorial service. Area pastors offered prayer for the families and friends of nearly 3,000 Sept. 11 victims, as well as soldiers fighting the resulting battles.

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Maj. Kevin Phillips, who is mobilized at Letterkenny Army Depot, told the more than 50 attendees that it's important to remember the soldiers.

"Today we fight a war that many in the Pentagon are calling 'The Long War,'" Phillips said, adding that Letterkenny accelerated production to meet increased demand for military equipment.

Kozak, a former on-air reporter for NPR, published "LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay" and "The Rabbi of 84th Street: The Extraordinary Life of Haskel Besser." LeMay trained young men after the attack on Pearl Harbor and led bombing flights.

Kozak remembers hearing only an F-16 overhead and emergency vehicles on the West Side Highway late on Sept. 11 and early on Sept. 12 in 2001. He described it as the quietest night in New York City.

His wife, Lisa, grabbed medical supplies and went to Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex to help other doctors anticipating a triage situation. She returned home in a few hours, crying because the patients never arrived.

"We saw the worst of humanity that day and we saw the best," Kozak said.

The weeks that followed were marked by constant funerals, with passers-by stopping on the sidewalks to pay respects to the fallen, he said.

Kozak described the United States' enemies as numerous, determined and well-financed.

"But I truly believe as long as our system of government endures, there are people among us who will not only be there, but will be offered the opportunity to rise up when we need them the most," he said.

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