Carmichaels remembers Sept. 11, 2001
Members of the Cumberland Township, Carmichaels Borough Police departments and local residents salute as the National Anthem is sung for the 911 Remembrance in Carmichaels.
Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter
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CARMICHAELS – It doesn’t matter how many years pass. In the town of Carmichaels, when the sirens of emergency vehicles begin to wail and lights flash at precisely 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11 it gives you chills.
It was at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, that American Airlines Flight 11, traveling from Boston to Los Angeles, struck the North tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
For 11 years, the ceremony in the town circle has drawn first responders, government officials, community members and those working in local businesses into the streets. There is a rhythm about the event, which was started the year after the attacks by then borough manager Mary Lewis. At two minutes before the sirens start, there is an anticipatory hush over the crowd. Some cover their ears.
Faithful attendees have watched Lewis’s granddaughters, Paige, 14, and Peyton Armstrong, 10, grow up before their eyes at the ceremony. Peyton, who was born post 2001, took over the responsibility of releasing balloons at the event from big sister, Paige, who started the tradition when she was three-years old. Still participating, Paige moved on to a bigger task, singing the National Anthem.
Speaker for Wednesday’s event, state Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, spoke of her own daughter and grandchildren in relation to the 12 years that have gone by since that fateful day in 2001.
“My youngest daughter (Maddie) was 12 the day it happened. She is an elementary teacher at Carmichaels now,” Snyder said.
As they discussed the events of that day Maddie realized that the students she now teaches weren’t even born when it happened, Snyder said.
“My grandchildren weren’t born,” she added.
Snyder said it was important that we gather to pass on what happened to the next generation and to remember the first responders, those who died in the attacks and the heroes who tried to save them.
“Our country has always risen to the call not separated by creed, color or class. We are always a beacon of hope around the world,” Snyder said.
She recalled the Four Freedoms Speech delivered by President Franklin Roosevelt, almost 11 months to the day before Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt said he looked forward to a world founded on four human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression, everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way, everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want, meaning economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants - everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear.
Roosevelt defined the last freedom as a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor - anywhere in the world.
He said there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy.
“The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are: Equality of opportunity for youth and for others, jobs for those who can work, security for those who need it, the ending of special privilege for the few, and the preservation of civil liberties for all,” he said.
“These are the simple, basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.”
“Today we see a world still in turmoil. We will always have questions. As Americans, we will always have doubts,” Snyder said. “We carry a heavy burden being the greatest nation in the world.”
The remembrance continued with the reading of the fireman’s and policeman’s poems, and the ringing of the bell signaling the call to duty and an end to that duty when the time comes, in honor of the 429 first responders that perished.
Snyder summed it up, “We will never forget what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.”