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City ceremony recalls 9/11 victims, heroes

September 10, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ
  • Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II asks for a moment of silence during the city's 9/11 remembrance service Friday at City Hall.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

With reverence, humility and gratitude, local officials on Friday remembered the horror of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the brave attempts by emergency crews to save lives.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, who spoke at the event, said he was getting ready to go to work when he saw news coverage of the first crash at the World Trade Center and figured it was a pilot's terrible mistake.

When a second plane crashed, Bruchey said, he knew Americans' lives would change forever.

The City of Hagerstown annually holds a ceremony to remember those who died after terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and a field near Somerset, Pa.

During this year's event at City Hall, the city's police chief and acting fire chief spoke.

They were joined by Christopher Amos, the chief of operations for Community Rescue Service, an ambulance company that serves Hagerstown, as well as state Del. Andrew A. Serafini and Washington County Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire.

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Wayne Taylor, vice president of the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County, said authorities have halted other terrorist plots since then, but everyday people still need to watch for strange behavior in public places.

Serafini said his brother-in-law was flying from Chicago to Reagan National Airport that day. The plane was diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport because of the World Trade Center attack.

Through his wife, Serafini also had a personal connection to the Pennsylvania crash. In an e-mail, Serafini said his wife taught Todd Beamer at Wheaton Christian High School in Illinois.

Beamer is considered one of the heroes who helped force the hijacked United Flight 93 to crash in Pennsylvania.

Serafini said police officers, firefighters and members of the military, like the passengers on that plane, purposely risk their lives to help others, for which civilians should be grateful.

Aleshire said two measures define the nation's historic moments, such as the American Revolution and the Civil War.

One is the vulnerability of the republic, although Americans don't live in fear.

The other is the "uniquely passionate tenacity" with which citizens unite when challenged, he said.

Aleshire said that in times of need, Americans raise one hand to help and the other hand to protect.

Kyd Dieterich, the city's acting fire chief, read aloud a piece called "Meet Me in the Stairwell," which he said shows up in his e-mail each year at this time.

The piece describes where God was on 9/11 -- in the World Trade Center, in the planes, everywhere.

Police Chief Arthur Smith said one result of the attacks has been a great deal of cooperation between law enforcement agencies. Every month, he is part of a classified briefing with the FBI, he said.

He encouraged people to express appreciation to members of the military when they see them in public, such as at airports.

Amos quoted from a New York Times column describing a "harvest of anger" and wondered about the world in which today's children will grow up.

He said it's important for students to learn not just what happened on 9/11 but also the events and foreign policy that led up to that day.

He said police, firefighters and emergency workers who responded to the call and have struggled with health problems since also need to be remembered.

The ceremony included Barbara Ingram School for the Arts students Isabelle Maina and Allison Nichols, who sang, and Hagerstown firefighter Rick Conrad, who played the bagpipes.

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