Area events scheduled to remember 9/11 victims

DOVER — The memories etched deep inside Michael Hurley’s mind of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, remain as powerful as ever.

After all, he was there at Ground Zero, seeing it, smelling it, touching it — and, in the end, surviving it.

Mr. Hurley was the manager of the World Trade Center site and the former director of Fire Safety for The Port Authority of New York. He worked at the World Trade Center during the terrorist bombing on Feb. 26, 1993, and on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists flew two jetliners into the twin towers.

He will serve as the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s public memorial service at the Air Mobility Command Museum, hosted by Dover Air Force Base Fire Emergency Services, to commemorate the fallen heroes of 9/11.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and is one of many remembrances being held in Kent and Sussex counties.

Mr. Hurley, former director of operations for the 9/11 Tribute Center, is the recipient of two Medals of Valor and an Exceptional Service Award for his actions during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the 1993 terrorist bombing.

His experiences made him the perfect candidate to speak at Wednesday’s service said DAFB Senior Airman Daniel Kolk, who was charged with putting the program together for the event.

“Mike Hurley stood out to us because of the achievements that he has earned,” Senior Airman Kolk said. “We wanted someone who was close to the fire service and had a hand in helping others on September 11th, 2001. Who better than someone who has earned a Valor Medal for helping?

“Not only did he earn a medal for the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, but he also earned one for the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. He is absolutely no stranger to being a hero.”

Director of Fire Safety at the World Trade Center on 9/11, Mr. Hurley was supervisor of the South Tower’s 107th floor observation deck in February 1993, when terrorists detonated a bomb in the underground parking garage of the WTC.

While Wednesday’s 9/11 service at the Air Mobility Command Museum will mark the 18th anniversary of that day, Senior Airman Kolk said U.S. citizens should never forget that day when 2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 others were injured as hijacked jetliners slammed into the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., before another crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

“I think that it is extremely important for people to remember the events that unfolded on that day,” Senior Airman Kolk said. “That day changed America forever, and when something of that magnitude changes a nation it should never be forgotten.

“It should be a day that people take time and reflect on how it changed us as a society and on how it brought America together.”
The base’s fire service personnel annually ring their ceremonial bell for the civilians and first responders who died on Sept. 11, 2001, explaining it is a tradition that dates back to 1865.

Originating in New York City firehouses, the tradition of “ringing out the four fives” continues today. Before modern communication techniques, fire houses used to exchange announcements and alarms through the ringing of bells, the signal to mark the line-of-duty death of a firefighter or death of an official was five individual bell strikes in four sets.

“When you hear that bell ring to honor a fallen brother, it really hits home,” said Senior Airman Kolk. “When the bell strikes you try to think about all the fallen who were trying with everything they had to save a stranger’s life.

“You think about the families they left behind and what the families went through after that day. It’s one of the most emotional and sobering moments you will experience as you hear the bell ringing.”

Wesley president to speak
Smyrna Citizens’ Hose Company and the Smyrna Clayton Ministerial Association will host the town’s annual 9/11-remembrance service on Wednesday night.

This year’s event will be held at 7 p.m. in front of the Citizens’ Hose Company station.

The service remembers those who died in the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept.11, 2001, and pays tribute to emergency first responders and military troops.

This year’s guest speaker is Commander Robert E. Clark II, who is currently the president of Wesley College in Dover. Commander Clark was commanding officer of the USS Connecticut during Sept. 11, 2001.

“The event brings everyone together,” said Christopher Hudson, a third-generation firefighter who fights fire with the Smyrna Citizens’ Hose Company. “It’s my generation’s Pearl Harbor. We thought it was extremely important to remember our brothers and sisters who lost their lives on 9/11.

“We want their legacy to live on. They will never be forgotten. We will never forget.”
Before the fire company took over, the first 9/11 event in Smyrna was hosted by American Legion Post 14.

Milton marks 9/11
In partnership with the Milton Fire Department and VFW Broadkill Post 6984, the town of Milton will host a 9/11 Memorial Ceremony on Wednesday in Milton Memorial Park.
The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m.

The public is invited to attend this solemn event honoring America’s fallen heroes from 9/11, as well as the local men and women who continue to serve America and communities.

NASCAR tickets for blood donations
Dover International Speedway will pay tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with the annual 9/11 Memorial Blood Drive on Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.

In appreciation to all who register this year, each person will receive a pair of general admission tickets to the Sunday, Oct. 6, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Dover International Speedway.
This marks the 14th consecutive year that Dover International Speedway, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and the Blood Bank of Delmarva have partnered together for this event, dating to 2006.

“The Sept. 11, 2001, tragedies remain vivid in the minds of all who lived through it and experienced the immediate aftermath,” said Mike Tatoian, the president and CEO of Dover International Speedway.

“Our annual Blood Drive is a significant way for the community to remember those sacrifices and contribute to an important cause.”

The 9/11 Memorial Blood Drive is open to the public and appointments should be scheduled by calling 1-888-8-BLOOD-8 or visiting www.DelmarvaBlood.org.

Although advance appointments are strongly encouraged, walk-in donors will be welcomed and taken as time permits.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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