“We pay tribute and honor the brave men and women who perished 19 years ago. May their families bear this burden.”
Those prayerful words from Bryan Ott, a U.S. Navy veteran and former chaplain for a VFW post in his former home in Milton, Washington, opened a solemn 9/11 remembrance on Friday morning at the Maricopa Veterans Center, the home of the Tracy P. MacPherson Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 12043 and Bernie G. Crouse American Legion Post No. 133.
About two dozen people, mostly veterans, watched as U.S. and POW-MIA flags were raised and lowered to half-staff to remember the nearly 3,000 people who died that crystal clear Tuesday in 2001 and the many more who died in the months and years later from the aftermath.
The Patriot Day ceremony also honored the service of first responders – military personnel, firefighters, police officers and paramedics alike – and civilians who stepped up in a time of need to help their neighbor.
After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the small crowd heard remarks from VFW commander Kirk Lane.
“There is no denying that America has changed since 9/11,” he said. “Thousands of our nation’s finest have paid the ultimate price fighting for our freedom.”
And thousands of others came home from Iraq and Afghanistan with the scars of combat, he added.
Lane said he was working on a casino project in Joliet, Illinois, when he heard the news that day.
“You never forget where you were when you heard,” he said.
Bruce Buenning of Maricopa said he attended to show his support for the VFW and American Legion posts.
“It was a terrible day,” recalled Buenning, who was working when he heard about the attacks on the radio. “I heard it and thought it couldn’t be real. But it was.”
Ray Probst of Maricopa, a member of the VFW, attended wearing a shirt remembering Flight 93, one of the four airliners hijacked by terrorists.
The shirt featured the words “Let’s Roll,” the rallying cry of passengers and crew who tried to retake the plan from the hijackers. During the struggle, the plane crashed in a field in southwest Pennsylvania, killing all on board.
Probst said he was on active duty in the Army at Fort Hood in Texas that day. The news came on the television as he was getting dressed that morning.
“We saw the first plane and thought it was an accident,” he recalled. “And then the second plane and thought, that’s no accident.”
Lane touched on the resilience of Americans and their willingness to come together in the hours, days and years after the terrorist attack.
“It truly became one of our finest hours,” he said. “Though there is no doubt the memory of the innocent Americans who perished … that fateful day is etched in our minds. The heroic acts that day will remain just as enduring.
Our nation stood tall. We witnessed rescue personnel and ordinary citizens become heroes that day, in some cases sacrificing their own lives to help strangers.”
9/11 flag-raising ceremony at Maricopa Veterans Center
Posted by InMaricopa on Friday, September 11, 2020