Never forget: Huge ceremony in Georgetown marks anniversary of 9/11

GEORGETOWN — On Sept. 11, 2001, two hijacked airliners slammed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and another struck the Pentagon.

A fourth airliner crashed in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, thanks to brave passengers on Flight 93 who thwarted the hijackers of their intended target.

Eighteen years removed from the worst terrorist attack in America’s history, Panchito, a World War II B-25 bomber flew over Georgetown in patriotic salute during a largely-attended 9/11 remembrance/memorial ceremony on Wednesday.
On hand for the event that featured a County Seat Cruisers car cruise-in were representatives of several police agencies, fire companies and other first responders.
“I want to thank everybody being here,” said Levin Clark, facilitator of the 9/11 event. “You first responders, I really appreciate you all being here. We couldn’t do it without you. I can put enough words out to thank you all for being here.”

Nearly 3,000 people perished in the 9/11 attacks, including hundreds of first responders.
“Those fallen first responders answered that call and heard the voice of the Lord when asked and they gave all that they had,” said Georgetown Police Chief R.L. Hughes, who offered the mission of police, fire and EMS.

“It’s a very simple mission,” Chief Hughes said. “It’s to seek justice, to serve man, and right wrong. Trust me when I tell you this, your first responders will always say, ‘Here am I, send me.’”
“Sept. 11 is my generation’s Pearl Harbor,” said State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn.

“Before Sept. 11 we thought that the United States was invincible. We wouldn’t be harmed the way we were at Pearl Harbor; we wouldn’t be attacked on our own soil again. But we were wrong. We became complacent over the years.”

“Never forget that there are people out there that despise the American way of life. They don’t like the freedoms that we have. They don’t like the framework that our founders laid out in our Constitution. They are here to change us, to change our nation,” Sen. Pettyjohn said.

“Well, on Sept. 11, 2001, they did change our nation. They didn’t expect us to become stronger, to unify. They thought those attacks were going to divide us, to cause chaos within our nation. They were wrong because they did not understand the American spirit.

“They didn’t understand what it is to be an American, to have this boiling pride within you, this bravado about our nation and how great we are. We are the greatest nation that has ever graced God’s earth.”
Standing beside his red, white and blue No. “X” 1957 Chevy, local race driver Kirk Lawson recalls that terrifying day 18 years ago.

Bayside 4 sing at ceremony.

“It started as any other day. Back then I was building race cars. I was in the shop. I didn’t find out about it until lunch time. The rest of day was a somber day. I watched it on television like everybody else. I was pretty much mad, disbelief, in shock and all the normal emotions you would go through when someone encroaches on your territory,” Mr. Lawson said.
“I’m 50. People my age don’t really remember Pearl Harbor. So, it’s kind of our Pearl Harbor. Today for my son, who is 12, to kids up in their 20s it is just a history lesson them as was Pearl Harbor to me.”

The ceremony, punctuated by Panchito’s timely flyover just past 6 o’clock, featured several student and adult speakers, the National Anthem sung by Cathy Gorman, and a prayer offered by William Kittrell of Seaford.

“Father, we thank you for first responders in a special way because as others are moving away from danger, they have a tendency to move toward it. They are servers,” Mr. Kittrell said.
Radio personality Dan Gaffney of Delaware 105.9 served as master of ceremonies. He shared the fireman’s prayer, with author unknown.

“When I am called to duty God wherever flames may rage give me strength to save a life whatever be its age. Help me embrace a little child before it’s too late or save an older person from the horror of that fate. Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.

“I want to fill my calling to give my best to guard my friend and neighbor and protect his property,” the prayer reads. “And, if according to your will I must answer death’s call, bless with your protecting hand my family one and all.”
Mr. Kittrell’s recollection of 9/11 was having worked late, driving truck the night before. “I was asleep, and my wife came in and woke me, ‘Turn on TV,’” he said.

“The first plane had already hit. I saw the second plane … I was like, ‘He’s leveling off. He’s meaning to run into it.’ I took it personally. I’m a military guy.”

Rob Arlett, former Sussex County councilman and U.S. Senate candidate, recalled the day.
“I remember exactly, I was on my way to work in Northern Virginia. The radio was going blaster. One of neighbors had a kid who was killed at the Pentagon,” said Mr. Arlett. “It was very close and near and dear to our hearts.”

Mr. Arlett added that he has “had it with today’s politics. We are a nation of laws, a nation of patriots and a nation of freedom fighters. The day we forget that is the day we are no longer a nation.”
“Never forget,” Mr. Arlett added. “It was open borders what caused what happened 18 years ago. It was that attitude that caused 9/11.”

Korean War veteran Walter Koopman of Milton shared his recollection.
“I was at that time a volunteer with CHEER. Very sad. You know I was actually going back to Dec. 7, 1941. I was going on seven years old, and my dad being a Naval officer I remember that, because when you have somebody in the family that is military you hear about these things,” said Mr. Koopman.

“After Pearl Harbor everyone figured that that was it, that we wouldn’t be attacked. We thought that that was the end as far anything like that ever happening on our soil.”

“Most of us, we get very comfortable. And here we are again, on that day 18 years ago today we were brutally attacked by terrorists – the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and then we’ll never know until maybe we meet again, the courageous heroes that diverted that plane and dropped it down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where there is now a memorial for that,” Mr. Koopman said.

“And this my belief; they came 18 years ago, and they are still here. So today you need to know your surroundings. We live in a different world today than we did prior to 18 years ago, Sept. 11, 2001.”

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