On last Wednesday, a crowd gathered at the courthouse steps to remember the horrific events that unfolded 18 years ago and honor those who still lay their lives on the line as first responders. The ceremony was led by The American Legion Camden Post 102.
Michael Lawler, The American Legion Chairman of Public Relations, Media and Communications, introduced and recognized local First Responders and dignitaries.
One-by-one, local leaders shared their memories of the day America was under attack on September 11, 2001. They also expressed gratitude towards the First Responders who sacrificed their lives to save so many on that fateful day.
Those events, though nearly 20 years ago, are embedded in American’s memories like any life-changing impressions are. It started as any normal Tuesday across America did. Many people across the nation, hustled and bustled getting school children dropped off and heading out on their daily commute. Airports were business-as-usual, handling thousands as they flew off to business meetings and vacation. Who knew that the mundane routine of morning flights would bring on the worst terrorist attack that United States soil had ever witnessed.
As American Airline flight 11 lifted off from Boston Logan International Airport at the height of rush hour that morning, everything seemed routine. There was no way to know at the end of the day, 2,977 lives would be lost, including 2,574 civilians, pilots and flight attendants, 343 firefighters, 37 port authority officers and 23 police officers. More than 6,000 more would be left with injuries. Thousands of military men and women have since fought in the War on Terror.
The timeline is short for the number of fatalities to be so massive. It all started at 7:59 a.m. when that flight took off from Boston. It ended when the last of the Twin Towers fell at 5:20 p.m.
Through the years, the nation recounts the attacks that day with countless news programs and historical reenactments. Most vow to “never forget.”
Locally, The American Legion invites the public and First Responders to remember through touching words and sounds each anniversary. This year, Lawler began the ceremony with customary fire service tradition. “Long before radios, pagers and fire alarms, daily announcements were sent from headquarters to fire houses with a number of bell commands. Five bell strikes repeated four times were a signal that a firefighter had died. It is a form of rendering final honors for fallen comrades.” In that moment, he requested all in attendance to stand and the bells tolled. It was a somber moment in memory of all of the First Responders who perished in the September 11th attacks.
More than 10 people spoke during the ceremony. Each shared where they were and the impact of that day. Most wept openly while speaking.
One of the final speakers, State Representative Bruce Griffey said, “We believe in God. We believe in Jesus. We believe in the United States of America and the government we have formed. We believe in the sanctity and the value of all human life. We believe that people that do not believe in our principles, have a right to believe that. We wish them no harm, no ill, and only wish them success. However, we also believe that there is evil in this world and are keenly aware of that since September 11, 2001. We believe that it is important that people that sacrificed their lives should be remembered. We believe that people that sacrifice their time, their efforts, their livelihoods, the First Responders and our Veterans.”
He finished with, “We believe we should never forget.”
Pastor Doyle Williams wrapped up the speakers with a prayer.
Bells were rung for those who lost their lives for the 11 national conflicts where Americans died. A short time later, “Taps” played.
To watch the live video of the ceremony, find it on the Camden Chronicle Pamela Mirabella Facebook page.