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Twisted steel from World Trade Center a solemn reminder of terrorist attacks

Ceremony planned for Tuesday to remember victims, first responders

September 10, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • A beam from the World Trade Center is on display in the Emergency Service Tribute Garden at Hagerstown's City Park.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Michelle Ross said she took her three young children to see a piece of history at City Park on Monday.

Although Ross’ twin daughters, Alivia and Lauren, are only 3, and her son, George, is just a toddler, she said she wanted them to see the Sept. 11 memorial to teach them early on about the importance of that fateful day.

“Girls, do you see this?” Ross asked her daughters. “This came all the way from New York.”

“It’s perfect,” Alivia said.

The large girder that once was part of the World Trade Center in New York City is now a mangled piece of steel. It is a grim reminder and shows the stress of being part of the fiery attack that al-Qaida launched on the twin towers and the Pentagon 11 years ago Tuesday.

A total of 3,000 Americans died when terrorists hijacked four planes on Sept. 11, 2001, crashing two into the World Trade Center towers and another into the Pentagon. It is believed that passengers on a fourth plane fought with their hijackers, causing the jetliner to crash in a field near Shanksville, Pa.

People who were alive during the attacks recall where they were that day, just like Americans of previous generations recalled their whereabouts during the attack on Pearl Harbor and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Ross said she was a student at Frostburg (Md.) State University. She said she overslept on Sept. 11 because the power in her house went out. Ross then turned on the television to get the time and saw that one of the towers had been struck by a plane.

“At that point, the first tower had been hit,” she said. “We thought it was just an accident ... Then the second plane hit. It was just unbelievable.”

Tuesday at 7 p.m., the City of Hagerstown will host a Remembrance in the Park ceremony at the Hagerstown memorial to honor those who died in the attacks and local first responders who have given their lives in the line of duty.

Capt. Mark Holtzman, acting chief of the Hagerstown Police Department, said officers will be at the ceremony to lay a wreath at the memorial and to provide a color guard.

They also will plant remembrance trees and escort some of the family members of four Maryland State Police troopers who were killed in the line of duty from 1931 to 1987.

Holtzman said that although tragic, Sept. 11 improved law enforcement methods.

“It taught the law enforcement community the importance of information sharing and interagency cooperation,” Holtzman said.

He said trained first responders, a better-equipped intelligence community and an alert public have been essential in limiting further terrorist attacks on American soil.

“That’s our best defense — early reporting. And it starts with the public,” Holtzman said.

He said private businesses across the country have been taught to be more vigilant by reporting, among other things, stolen trucks and customers who purchase abnormally large amounts of chemicals and fertilizer used to make bombs.

In addition, he said, the state of Maryland formed the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, an organization committed to coordinate the efforts of federal, state and local agencies to gather, analyze and share intelligence with law enforcement, emergency responders and public health officials.

Hagerstown Fire Chief W. Kyd Dieterich said the fire department will have a presence at the remembrance ceremony.

He said Sept. 11 holds a special place in the hearts of firefighters because so many of them died trying to rescue people from the World Trade Center.

“It’s a pretty sacred day to everybody in the fire services,” Dieterich said. “I think it’s going to take a long time for that to heal.”

If you go ...
What: Remembrance in the Park
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m. Music begins at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Hagerstown’s City Park

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To learn more

To learn more about antiterrorist measures, go to www.mcac.maryland.gov.

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