Residents remember Sept. 11

Just before a memorial began Tuesday remembering the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the crowd of approximately 75 people at the Vienna fire station went silent as “Amazing Grace” came across the sound system.

The silence wasn’t prompted by anyone, and just moments before the song began, people were chatting and laughing with one another. It was as if the song — often played at funerals — triggered memories in the collective subconscious of those present during the tragedy, chaos and loss of that day.

When 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi Arabian citizens, overtook planes that ultimately crashed into the Twin Towers, Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa., the end result was the death of 2,996 people from 57 countries. Of the dead, 343 were firefighters and paramedics.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, led to the global war on terror, including wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also led to changes in domestic surveillance and other laws that gave the government increased surveillance and other powers.

Vienna fire Lt. John Hinley said the tragic attack brought together cultures, bridged differences and united citizens from around the world.

“This is an opportunity for us to come together and remember those who lost their lives on 911,” Hinley said. “And also pay tribute to all firefighters and EMS workers everywhere. We have to remember, thank and honor those first responders, those who have put their lives on the line and especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The ceremony in Vienna occurred at a memorial outside the station dedicated to those who died. The memorial includes two pieces of steel from the Trade Center wreckage the department was able to obtain in 2011.

U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, was at Tuesday’s memorial and he asked those present to remember why people gather so many years later to remember that day.

“It’s the sacrifice, and more than anything, the selfless ness of the people who were running into a burning building while everyone else was trying to run out,” Ryan said. “When men and women knew in their minds there was very little chance of them coming out of there alive. Men and women with families, and kids at home and mortgages and baseball games to go to and soccer matches to attend for their kids. Yet they went there out of duty.”

Youngstown Air Reserve Station Lt. Col. Scott Stewart said after watching the second plane hit the towers, he knew the nation was at war. The attack coincided with Stewart’s first day of his new job as the head of Security Forces Squadron of the U.S. Strategic Command. A few hours later , President George W. Bush was escorted in to run the war from a STRATCOM nuclear bunker for safety.

To see the nation come under attack, and the subsequent response and unity from leaders and service members without argument about who was in charge or what needed to be done, was something Stewart said he will always remember.

“It was a very humbling day, very emotional,” Stewart recalled.

In Weathersfield, a flag retirement ceremony was held at the township park hosted by local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. More than 40 people, including township police officers and firefighters, attended.

Brad Lang, scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 4083, said “On Sept. 11, 2001, our freedom was attacked. It is a day that we will never forget. Along with this flag retirement ceremony, we hold a moment of silence for the almost 3,000 lives lost and the almost 6,000 injured.”

Township Trustee Chairman Gil Blair said the scouts taking part in the ceremony were not even born when the world changed on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Those who remember got up that day and went to work as if it was another day. By mid-morning, the history of our nation had changed forever. When the planes hit, the first responders went out first. Police and fire answered the call,” Blair said.

The scouts honored safety forces and veterans at the event by handing out stars cut from the U.S. flags being retired.

Austintown held a ceremony at the township’s 911 memorial on Raccoon Road and an event also was held at the Girard Multigenerational Center.

jwysochanski@tribtoday.com

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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