Remembrance Ceremony keeps eyes on Sept. 11
RANSON – On Sept. 11, 2002, exactly a year after the country’s worst terrorist attack, communities across the nation paused to remember lives lost that terrible day when al-Qaeda suicide bombers took over four commercial flights, leading to nearly 3,000 deaths at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a field near Shanksville, Pa.
Dr. Henry Christie, a chiropractor who volunteers as the chaplain for Independent Fire Co. in Ranson, helped organize a 9-11 Remembrance Ceremony that year and says he’s proud the tradition has continued every September.
“It’s a short, solemn ceremony but we know it means a lot to a lot of people in our community,” Christie said. “Year in and year out, we hear from people who tell us they’re grateful that we do this.”
This morning’s service begins at 9:58 a.m. at the fire company at 200 W. Second Ave. in Ranson.
George Harris, a Jefferson County resident who was working for the Secret Service inside the World Trade Center complex on Sept. 11, 2001, will deliver remarks.
Over the years, the Independent service has featured as guest speakers several men with first-hand knowledge of the attacks – including Ed Hannon, who was with the Arlington (Va.) County Fire Department in 2001, and Peter Acton of the Fire Department of New York, who worked sifting through debris following the towers’ fall – but Harris will be the first Sept. 11 attack survivor to speak at Independent, Christie said.
Christie said the ceremony is timed to begin when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed and to end at 10:28 a.m., the time when the WTC’s North Tower fell – the period when most of the day’s victims and firefighters died.
Outside of New York, hundreds more died when American Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. and in the crash of United Flight 93 in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought to regain control of the plane from hijackers.
The local ceremony involves representatives from police, fire and military agencies and typically draws an audience of 100 or more.
Also taking part today: the Jefferson High School Junior ROTC and the choral group from Washington High as well as Joe Kent, who has performed “Amazing Grace” and other songs on the bagpipes at the ceremony each year.
It’s important that no one forget the horror of the attacks and the bravery that rescuers showed in its aftermath, Christie said.
Christie said the annual services are similar to the remembrances services held every Dec. 7 to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“We want to make sure, in that same way, that September 11 isn’t ever forgotten,” he said. “It’s a priority for our fire company to continue to pay tribute every year. We never want September 11 to just be something in the history books.”