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Scarred Trade Center beam graces place of remembrance in Hagerstown

September 13, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • A beam from the World Trade Center has been installed in the Washington County Emergency Services Tribute Gardens in Hagerstown's City Park. The artifact was unveiled Tuesday during a Remembrance In the Park ceremony.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — A cover was pulled off the brown, fire-scarred steel I beam and, for a few moments, there was silence as cameras clicked to capture the image.

Then an applause erupted and more camera flashes went off as daylight started to give way to darkness.

Hagerstown now has a piece of New York City’s World Trade Center, which was reduced to ruin in the terrorist attacks 10 years ago.

The section of beam, about 5 feet tall and bolted to the ground, was unveiled Tuesday night in a Remembrance In the Park ceremony in City Park in Hagerstown.

People flowed into a section of the park known as the Washington County Emergency Services Tribute Gardens to see the beam, listen to patriotic songs, remember others killed in the line of duty and hear elected officials read proclamations.

“It’s quite an honor to stand here,” said Washington County Commissioners President Terry Baker, who spoke at the event along with Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

Bruchey recalled how the nation was enjoying relatively good fortune on Sept. 10, 2001. Then the attacks happened, and life in the nation changed forever, Bruchey said.

“We were brought to a new level of patriotism and heroism. We wept, yelled and grew angry,” Bruchey said.

But the spirit of America was not broken, he said.

“We straightened our back and hoisted our flag,” Bruchey said.

Ceremonies remembering the attacks have been held in the section of the park in past years. The area, which is not far from the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, consists of a walk of honor and trees planted in honor of those who have died in the line of duty since 2001.

Special remembrance was given to U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Maung “Sam” Htaik of Hagerstown who was killed in combat in Afghanistan on Jan. 1.

A tree was planted at the site in memory of Htaik, and members of his family were invited to help turn dirt around the tree during the 7 p.m. ceremony.

The event was filled with formality and symbolism. In the moments leading up to the ceremony, a procession of about 40 police and fire vehicles flowed into Park Circle at the entrance to the park. The vehicles entered the park after passing under an American flag hoisted over them by two fire trucks.

Stephen Robinson, chaplain for the Hagerstown Police Department, talked about the first responders who went to the crumbling World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

It “must have looked like hell,” Robinson said.

Robinson called for help to “heal the wounds of pain that may reopen.”

“We will persevere through this national tragedy,” said Kevin Lewis, the director of Washington County Emergency Services and the master of ceremonies.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung by Isabelle Maina, who is a student at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. Maina later led the crowd in the singing of “God Bless America.”

Lewis read the names of 16 fire, police, military and corrections workers who have been killed in the line of duty. A bell was rung after the reading of each of the Washington County residents’ names.

The Washington County Citizens Corps Committee, which is involved in preparedness issues in the county, worked for two years to bring an artifact from the World Trade Center to Hagerstown.

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