WEIRTON - As the world took time Sunday to reflect on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, memorial ceremonies were held in many communities across the nation including in the Ohio Valley.
In Weirton, residents gathered at the Brooke-Hancock Veterans Memorial Park in order to pay tribute and remember those who perished in the attacks, as well as the men and women who have been serving in the military as part of the war on terror ever since.
The park is the home of a memorial to the 2,977 victims of the terrorist attacks, comprised of fragments of steel beams from the World Trade Center. The beams were donated to the park in 2002 by Weirton Steel Corp. which had been among companies tasked with recycling the steel from the building.
Rob Denham, of the Washington-Jefferson-Hancock Chapter of the American Patriot Council which organized the event, welcomed those gathered, noting the events of Sept. 11, 2001, were among those that will forever be remembered in the nation's history.
"We can all remember exactly where we were," Denham said, noting in that regard the day would join the ranks of Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination as turning points for the country.
Of the nearly 3,000 victims, 246 were on the four planes hijacked by the terrorists, 2,606 were at the World Trade Center in New York City and 125 were at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
BEAMS — This monument, located at the Brooke-Hancock Veterans Memorial Park, is made up of fragments of steel beams from the World Trade Center. It was donated to the park by Weirton Steel Corp. in 2002. -- Craig Howell
HONOR GUARD — Members of the 336th Engineering Co. led the honor guard, which also included representatives of the Weirton police and fire departments, to present the flags during the ceremony Sunday. Area residents gathered to remember the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks at the Brooke-Hancock Veterans Memorial Park. -- Craig Howell
Mayor George Kondik said what he remembers most is the sight of the police and firefighters from New York as they attempted to rescue those in the Twin Towers following the attacks.
"As everybody was running from the tragedy, they were running to the tragedy," Kondik said.
Of those rescue workers, 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City Police Department officers, 37 New York Port Authority police officers and 15 emergency medical technicians were killed as a result of the attacks.
"Our country was changed that day, but not broken."
U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, in a letter read during the ceremony in Weirton on Sunday.
Hancock County Commissioner Dan Greathouse took a few moments to applaud the efforts of the members of the Weirton Police Department and Weirton Fire Department who work each day to protect local residents.
Greathouse, too, compared Sept. 11, 2001 to moments such as Pearl Harbor and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, saying they are moments each generation remembers. He said the nation was changed by each of those moments, and although differences and issues arose from those moments, the nation also found a way to grow and survive; standing together when it mattered most.
"We may fight among ourselves, but we'll stand together," Greathouse said.
Brooke County Commissioner Norma Tarr said while many aspects of the events feel as if they happened a lifetime ago, the nation continues to feel many of the results of the attacks.
Flynn Altmeyer, a representative of U.S. Congressman David McKinley, R-Wheeling, also was among those on hand for the service. McKinley was unable to make it to Weirton Sunday, but asked Altmeyer to read a letter in which the congressman urged residents to reflect on the sacrifices made by those on Sept. 11 and by the military on every day since.
"Our country was changed that day, but not broken," McKinley stated in the letter.
Ward 4 Councilman George Ash thanked residents for coming to the park for the ceremony, noting the park was made possible by the work of local veterans, making particular note of the efforts by the late Henry DeMasis, a veteran and former councilman, who Ash said was instrumental in getting the park established.
The ceremony also included tributes by members of the Weirton police and fire departments, and the 336th Engineering Co., as well as musical performances by Lynne Madranski, Leslie Thermes and Lee Rouse, and the recitation by John Buchmelter of Mingo Junction of the poem "High Flight."
The ceremony concluded with a candle-lit processional to the Sept. 11 memorial at the park.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)