More participation encouraged in ceremony marking 9/11 anniversary

September 1, 2014
Staff Sgt. Brandon Crawford, keynote speaker, addresses the audience during ceremonies marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in 2013. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

As years go by, if the number of people attending the service marking the anniversary of 9/11 at Washington Mall in South Strabane Township is any indication, many have forgotten the horrific attack on the United States during the terrorist attack 13 years ago.

But South Strabane fire Chief Scott Reese and police Chief Don Zofchak hope to change the decline in numbers by encouraging more people to attend the ceremony at 8:45 a.m. Sept. 11 at the memorial in the mall parking lot.

At the ceremony last year, Pastor Gary Gibson of North Buffalo Church told those gathered that the parking lot should be full of people. He challenged those attending to return for this year’s ceremony and bring friends and family.

“We need to remember those who perished that day as well as others who have died over the years in public service,” Zofchak said. “We can’t become complacent and never forget what the terrorists did to us. I like to call this a day to remember to remember.”

Many local emergency responders went to Ground Zero in New York City shortly after the attack to assist police and firefighters.

The marble memorial recognizing those who lost their lives in the attack and dedicated to the residents of the county is back in place behind the flag pole for this year’s ceremony. The approximate 10-foot tall monument was blown over by straight line winds during a June 18, 2013 storm.

“The wind just knocked it over, breaking it into several pieces,” Reese said. “The stainless steel pins holding it on the base, just completely bent.”

Because of the size, the stone had to be shipped in from the west. Reese said it took some time to get it back and replace the broken stone.

Reese said they would like to see participation from all aspects of emergency services as well as military personnel and the public.

“We need to be vigilant and not forget,” Reese said.

“It is such a nice ceremony, it is a shame more aren’t here,” Zofchak said of the brief memorial.

Police officers attending in uniform are asked to arrive by 8:15 a.m.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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