By ANGELA PRICE Special to the Record Observer | Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:00 am
GRASONVILLE A standing-room-only crowd packed The Jetty Sunday night, Sept. 11, for a memorial service to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and to honor those who lost their lives that day.
The American flag flew high, suspended from ladders atop Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department's Truck 2 and Church Hill Volunteer Fire Department's Tower 5. A bagpiper and drummer clad in kilts passed beneath the flag playing "Danny Boy" as they marched down the road and into The Jetty to open the service about 8 p.m.
After the flag presentation, the crowd took part in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Laurie Plemons sang "The Star Spangled Banner." Father Paul Jennings, pastor at St. Christopher's Catholic Church and chaplain for the sheriff's office and Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department, offered an opening prayer.
Local volunteer Justin Davis has been organizing a memorial and doing fundraisers for survivors every year since the attacks.
"I would like everyone to take a minute to reflect on what they were doing on that fateful day, and the changes that have come to this country since the attacks," Davis said.
"We have all changed in many ways, but we have not changed in regard to the fear we shared as we watched the planes hit the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Or when we saw the towers fall, then realizing all the lives that had just been lost brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Everything we believed about freedom was challenged in a matter of a few hours by an enemy trying to instill fear and destroy this country."
Davis has been a volunteer firefighter in Queen Anne's County for 21 years; he said fire fighting is a "brotherhood," and the brotherhood was devastated that day.
"You don't have to know them or have ever worked with them to feel the loss," he said.
Davis talked about his brother Allen, who fought in the Gulf War and who has served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He called for those gathered to pray for the brave men and women in the armed forces defending our freedom no matter the cost to themselves.
He spoke of the patriotism that swept the country shortly after 9/11, saying it seems to have faded with time. He called for its resurgence.
"The truth is that we don't know what is going to happen to our country in the days ahead. I am not a pessimist, but we know the terrorists have not given up. What we must do is keep supporting our troops, law enforcement, firefighters and EMS personnel, and stand up for what we believe and keep praying that God will bless and protect this great country," Davis said.
Joe Edwards, a firefighter with Goodwill Volunteer Fire Company of Centreville, read "The Fireman's Prayer." Capt. John Ryan of the Grasonville Volunteer Ambulance Department read the "EMS Prayer." Retired U.S. Army Col. Harry Ruzicka, who lost a leg serving in the Middle East in the U.S. war on terror, read "A Soldier's Prayer."
Sgt. Morris "Sonny" Jones, representing the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office, read a piece he wrote for the service titled, "We Remember." Jones is also a volunteer firefighter.
"We remember the fear that gripped our very soul, the thought of war on our own soil, and the steadfast determination that we would overcome," Jones said.
"We remember words like patriotism, nation, and freedom. Our country bound together as one family, one voice that cried out for justice and wept in sadness."
He spoke of the numbers, like 9/11 and 343, that had no real meaning before that morning.
"We remember the countless faces that day. Covered in dust, tired and broken. Faces that inspired courage in all of us. Faces that spoke to us far beyond that which words ever could," Jones said.
He spoke of the aftermath, of unearthing the bodies and the determination not to leave anyone behind.
"Most of all, we remember the people, ordinary people that did extraordinary things that day. People who gave their own lives so that others may live. People that in the face of almost certain death said 'I will not fail in my mission. I will not leave you in harm's way. I will be there to help you, no matter what the cost,'" Jones said. "My fallen brothers and sisters, we remember you, and we will never, ever forget."
Author Mark Prachek, a retired paramedic/firefighter, offered a toast and a poem. Prachek also is a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, who show their respect by escorting the bodies of servicemen home from Dover Air Force Base and attending their funerals.
Linda Haney of St. Christopher's offered a closing prayer. Bill Reem played "Taps," and the bagpiper and drummer played "Amazing Grace" to end the service.
Davis said the sale of commemorative T-shirts prior to the service and donations made during the service raised $390 for the Families of Sept. 11. He added $110 to make it an even $500 donation to the nonprofit organization.
T-shirts are still available at a cost of $20; $5 from each sale goes to the charity.
Sgt. Morris "Sonny" Jones of the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office reads a piece he wrote for 9/11 Memorial Service entitled "We Remember." Jones is also a firefighter.