EASTON — The Town of Easton, Talbot County and the community honored those who died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, during a ceremony Wednesday morning at the corner of West and Dover streets in Easton.
The American flag billowed high above the crowd as Corey Pack, Talbot County Council president, offered greetings. He asked audience members to examine their own lives and question whether 9/11 victims died in vain.
“We should not trivialize the impact that the date has left in us. The trauma of that day is real and for thousands of Americans the physical and mental scars are felt every day.”
Pack reflected on the horrors and pain from the attack on Pearl Harbor, quoting then U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt address to Congress when he said the attack was “a date which will live in infamy.”
Pack said it is the date, rather than the day, that will have its significance in American history.
“...The brutal and senseless attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 are no less infamous to this generation,” he said.
He also noted that the physical signs of 9/11 have changed from places of sorrow and pain to symbols of honor and hope. In the Pennsylvania field where Flight 93 went down, the Tower of Voices now stands, a 93-foot-tall structure which holds 40 wind chimes for the 40 souls lost that day.
Also, the outer wall of the Pentagon has been rebuilt and the Freedom Tower reaches 1,776 feet high where the Twin Towers once stood in the New York skyline.
Pack noted several dangers that are ever present in society, like mass shootings and the opioid crisis. “What have we done to ensure that all people enjoy the freedoms that this nation has promised? And what have we done to protect the justice that this nation was built upon?”
Local law enforcement representatives presented the flags, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Easton High School Senior Tori Gomez sang The Star-Spangled Banner.
The Reverend Roland C. Brown of the Union Baptist Church in Easton led the ceremony’s invocation and benediction.
Town of Easton Mayor Bob Willey said he was pleased to see so many young people in the crowd. “You are our hope for the future and it is imperative that you remember and be part of this ceremony here today.”
He said the country is split over just about everything. “It’s ok to be different and to disagree, everyone is entitled to their opinion, we don’t have to all look and act alike. But it’s not ok to criticize...”
Then a moment a silence and tolling of bells took place.
U.S. Army Veteran Gene Feher served as the event’s speaker. Feher is an active member of VFW Post 5118, American Legion Post 70 and the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 648. He also served with EMS for many years and worked in finance too.
He shared with the audience his personal experience of 9/11. Sitting in his office in Connecticut that fateful morning, all fire and EMS personnel were requested to assemble at their respective headquarters and await further instruction.
Feher recalled waiting at a large parking lot at a state park on the Long Island Sound along with hundreds of other fire and EMS units.
“From that vantage point we could see lower Manhattan, about 40 miles away. From that spot we watched helplessly as the fire and smoke raged in lower Manhattan. We saw the horror of it all and waited and waited.”
But the call never came. They were never dispatched; there was no one to save.
He visited Ground Zero shortly thereafter and called it the most horrible sight he had ever witnessed, describing the enormity of the destruction, rubble, utter misery of the surroundings and the smell of carnage.
But he also saw thousands of Americans giving their help to others out of respect for the victims’ families, and for us all.
“I saw and felt the decency, the compassion, the respect, the caring and the tolerance that all of us had toward each other, truly the very best in us.”
While Feher feels the passage of time has diminished those qualities in Americans, he said we should remember everyday how we all heard and saw those infamous events unfold.
Feher said to truly honor the victims of 9/11, we should bond together to act as their American family.
“That kind of legacy would show the highest level of respect to those who perished on that day.”
After his remarks, Blair Hudson and Katie Fitzgerald sang Amazing Grace, and the Easton Middle School Advanced Band and the Easton High School Band closed the ceremony with a patriotic melody.