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Whitehall Borough Remembers 9/11 Victims, Heroes

Whitehall officials and residents gathered at the Edwin F. Brennan Plaza on Sunday to remember the victims and families of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The moments during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City; Arlington County, VA; and Somerset County, PA, left many Americans mourning and grieving for the losses on that tragic day that changed their country forever.

It has been a decade since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and people all over the nation are sure to remember and honor the victims of those attacks in some way.

 officials held a remembrance ceremony at Whitehall's  on Sunday.

Whitehall Council President Linda J. Book organized the event and scheduled it to start at around 8:30 a.m. so that it would coincide with the first attack 10 years ago—American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.

Following that crash, three more planes—United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower, American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93 into an open field in Stonycreek Township, a small community in Somerset County—were brought down as part of the attacks, as well.

About 40 residents, police officers and fire-company personnel attended Sunday's ceremony in Whitehall, which lasted approximately one hour.

“We all knew what year this was,” Book said, “and we had to do something. (The borough) has always been proactive with bringing the community together, and this is a time that is important to bring people together to remember.”

Book added that it's important to honor the people who were turned into victims and heroes that day.

Book remembers Sept. 11, 2001, clearly, as she is a dispatcher at nearby Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin Borough. She received calls from concerned family members that day who were worried that a plane from that airport might be hijacked.

All of the aircrafts from the county airport were ordered to the ground that day, and Book said that it was a relief when all of the jets were accounted for.

“It was a lot to deal with, emotionally,” she said.

Whitehall Mayor James F. Nowalk followed Book's presentation on Sunday with a few words of his own to remember the victims and heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

“People of my generation relate this day to when (former President) John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and (the attacks on) Pearl Harbor,” Nowalk said. “Those under the age of 50 years will never have anything happen like what did on Sept. 11(, 2001).

"They destroyed the two largest buildings in America. If it weren't for the heroic passengers on Flight 93, they may have destroyed the White House or Capitol Building(, as well).”

The mayor followed his comments with a song to remember victims and heroes from that day—“Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” by Alan Jackson, who dedicated the song to victims when it was released in November 2001.

Some residents became emotional as Nowalk sang next to a flagpole displaying a half-mast U.S. flag.

The event also included a 9/11 banner that had a Keystone State symbol and a depiction of the Pentagon within a “9.” The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center also were included in that banner (forming an “11”) along with the message “Never Forget.”

Nancy Lee Crowder read a poem at Sunday's ceremony that she wrote after taking a trip to the Flight 93 memorial site with her family.

“This hit a little too close to home for me because my husband, Bill, is a firefighter,” Crowder, also a Baldwin-Whitehall School Board member, said. “We went (to the memorial) on the fifth anniversary (of 9/11).”

The event concluded with prayers for firefighters and police officers.

“We need to respect all of the people who gave their lives (during 9/11 rescue efforts),”  Chief Lee Price said. “This includes not only the firefighters and police but also the citizens who put their life on the line.”

“We must truly never forget what they sacrificed for us,” resident Victoria Scholl said. “All of our lives have been different since that moment.”

Whitehall's recently crowned Faustino Dunckhorst remembered that he was at home when he heard the news of the first attacks on Sept. 11, 10 years ago.

“There weren't many details yet,” Dunckhorst said, “but once the second plane hit, we knew there was something going on.”

Whitehall council member William J. Veith added that the events of 9/11 changed the lives of Americans forever.

“Everything we do has been affected by it,” Veith said. “We have to honor the heroes from that day.”

Chris A. Mooney, a candidate for the Whitehall Council, remembered how quiet it became at his workplace for AAA's Emergency Road Service department.

“We normally handle hundreds of calls,” Mooney said. “It amazes me how (emergency personnel) are trained to go do a job like this, and they don't even think about how they could lose their lives.”

Nancy Crowder September 12, 2011 at 03:49 AM
I Could Not Believe My Eyes.......By Nancy Crowder on July 7. 2006 Part I As I sat on September 11, 2001 and drank my morning coffee and watched television, I could not believe my eyes. As the first trade tower was hit by a plane, I thought at first it might have fallen from the sky. A short time later another tower was hit with another plane. Then I knew it was no accident and there was someone to blame. Then there was the 3rd plane hitting the Pentagon, I felt myself start to panic as I was asking myself how any person could knowingly and willing to do this suicidal mission. I then knew that the simple life that I knew in America was about to change. Then I sat and feared for the men and women rescuers whom were going into the towers that were leaning and going to crumble, this, they probably couldn’t see from ground zero. These rescuers didn’t stop to think about giving up their lives to become our heroes. Then there was the fourth plane that could not be located. For the first time in America all planes were grounded. As the passengers of the plane found out they were headed for Washington, they made the decision to take over the plane. The sky was blue yet calm, empty and quite when they hit the earth in a town called Shanksville, with whom the U.S.A will be forever bonded.
Nancy Crowder September 12, 2011 at 03:52 AM
I Could Not Believe My Eyes.......By Nancy Crowder on July 7. 2006 Part II Now many people visit the small town of Shanksville to visit a memorial site for the forty passengers that died that day. The passengers made a choice to help us maintain our country and freedom. God blessed the U.S.A. Now I ask that God bless the heroes on the plane their family and friends, their rescuers and the town of Shanksville. You need to know that you have my thanks each and every day. I proudly wear, my “Hearts of Steel” bracelet, each and every day, to remind me and my family how all of our lives forever changed on September 11, 2001. I thank all of our heroes who protect our freedom everyday, from army, air force, navy, marine to firefighters, policemen, doctors and nurses and just plain citizens like the crew members and passengers of Flight 93.
Robert Edward Healy, III September 12, 2011 at 04:35 AM
Thank you so much, Nancy.
Missy McLaughlin September 12, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Beautiful poem, Nancy!

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