Shenandoah took a few moments on Wednesday, Sept. 11 to remember a day in American history that speakers said should never be forgotten.
On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four airplanes leaving American airports. Two of the planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York City, eventually causing both buildings to collapse. A third plane hit the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Almost 3,000 people were killed during the entire incident.
Ernie Robinson, senior vice commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said from inside the Old Armory what happened on Sept. 11 is not new to the country – and how the country responded.
“The first time was the colonial war,” he said, referring to the American Revolution against Britain
He then made reference to the Japanese attack Dec. 7, 1941, on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii which put America in World War II.
“You’ve seen the movies,” he said about the many films using the war as its plot. “It’s true, they woke a sleeping giant.” Robinson used the sleeping giant phrase as analogy on how the United States has responded to attacks.
Robinson continued saying the Japanese were fearful of a ground invasion of America because of citizens’ right to arm and defend themselves.
“They know what this country can do,” he said. “It’s not going to buckle.”
Shenandoah Fire Chief Ron Weston used the service to honor the firefighters who perished in New York City on Sept. 11 by showing how the New York City departments remember those who have fallen in service.
Before electronic communication devices, fire departments informed the area of information by a series of strikes on a bell. Each incident had its own number of bell soundings. When a firefighter died there would be five strikes of the bell, done four times with a pause between each set of five. The action goes back as far as 1865.
With the assistance from Shenandoah Fire Cadets, who are high school juniors going through firefighter training, the audience listened to a four-five.
There were 343 emergency service personnel, including firefighters, lost in Sept. 11.
Page County Veterans Affairs Executive Director Janet Olsen said the day affected everyone.
“What did that do to you,” she told the audience. “Terrify, mad, scared?”
She acknowledged the emergency service personnel in the building and reminded the audience of the importance those people have and had on that day. More than 300 were lost.
“Tell them thank you,” she said.
Olsen hopes Sept. 11 memorials will never end.
“Without this tradition, we are not Americans,” she said.