Millsboro American Legion auxiliary remembers Sept. 11

Attendees participate in a candlelight ceremony during a 9/11 remembrance event at American Legion Post 28 near Millsboro. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

MILLSBORO — The COVID-19 crisis could not stop a public remembrance of an event 19 years ago that changed America and the world.

American Legion Auxiliary Unit 28’s annual 9/11 candlelight ceremony Friday remembered America’s resilient response to airline hijackings and terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and punctured the Pentagon.

And it remembered the passengers on a fourth plane who fought back; Flight 93 ultimately crashed in rural southwest Pennsylvania, denying the hijackers’ their intended target.

“I want to thank Unit 28 for doing this,” said Delaware Department Legion Commander Michael Havel, of Post 14 in Smyrna. “A lot of places, because of COVID, are not having this ceremony to remember those who paid the ultimate price. I just want to say, ‘Thank you for doing this.’”

Approximately 150 people attended the outdoor event held at the pavilion at Legion Post 28 near Millsboro.

American Legion Auxiliary Unit 28 junior members Skyler Schmidt, left, and sister Riley Schmidt, right, hold the 9/11 Freedom Flag as Legion Auxiliary Department President Debbie Guenther shares information on the flag.

Delaware Department Auxiliary President Debbie Guenther shared the meaning and hope for the Freedom Flag, which she said has flown over 1,800 schools and in 30 states as a symbol of remembrance of 9/11, in which 2,977 lives were lost.

It started with the Freedom Flag Foundation, a non-rofit organization formed to establish the Freedom Flag as a national symbol of remembrance for Sept. 11, 2001, and to support educational efforts of teaching future generations about the tragic events and the many lives lost on that date.

Objectives of the Freedom Flag Foundation are to develop support and long-term educational partnership with county and city schools to use the flag as teaching tool as a respected symbol.

A bill in Congress – HR 7183 – aims to amend U.S. Code to designate the Freedom Flag as an official symbol of the United States to honor and remember the victims and emergency responders who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary in mid-June of this year.

Keynote speaker was Dorothy McCormick, the 2020 Delaware American Legion Oratorical winner.

Seventeen-year-old Dorothy McCormick, of Millsboro, the 2020 Delaware American Legion Oratorical winner, delivers her speech during the 9-11 candlelight ceremony at American Legion Post 28 Friday.

“I was born in June of 2003, so despite the fact that I was born after the events of 9/11, I have been taught the importance of carrying on the memory of this tragedy. And so, I am truly honored to be able to be here and speak with all you today,” said the 17-year-old from Millsboro.

In her speech, she compared America’s response to 9/11 with the current coronavirus pandemic.

Following events of 9/11, Americans united and responded with comfort, aid and resources, she said. Today, in a different setting marked by political and sociological differences, Dorothy recalled the initial pandemic response.

“We refuse to forget our fellow Americans in need. Within days we put food on the tables of hungry children, masks on the faces of unprotected health care workers and funds into the hands of struggling businesses,” Dorothy said.

“The world has changed. However, the American spirit has not changed. It is the same spirit that led thousands of women to handmake clothing for U.S. soldiers during the Revolutionary War. It is the same spirit that brought people together when food and money ran low during the Great Depression. It is the same spirit that fought for every American citizen the right vote so that no voice was silent. This spirit makes America more than a country, more than a community but a family.”

Judy Mangini leads the audience in “God Bless America” Friday evening.

She noted the sacrifices made by first responders during 9/11.

“So many people sacrificed their lives in an attempt to save their fellow Americans. Those who aided the survivors carry on their legacy. But their legacy shouldn’t end there,” Dorothy said.

“Every day, you and I have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps as our country faces a different enemy – not violence but a virus. Because of this right now more than ever we need the American spirit.”