COATESVILLE — Chester County officials Friday morning remembered the sacrifices that police officers, firefighters and EMTs made 19 years ago during a ceremony at the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum, which took place in front of the two steel tridents that came from the World Trade Towers, built at the old Lukens Steel facility.
This year, the ceremony was virtual, but no less moving.
"Our firefighters, our police officers, our EMTs walked into that building knowing full well they might lose their lives trying to save the life of someone else," said Josh Maxwell, county commissioner. Volunteers willing to give their life to save the life of someone they don't know. We should thank them for that every opportunity we get."
Maxwell said he still remembers walking into class at high school on Sept. 11 when a teacher turned on the TV and his class stayed to watch for hours, even after the bell rang. He said the student next to him said he was signing up for the Army, and the following year at West Chester University, he saw 50 to 75 students wait in line to withdraw from classes because they were reservists.
"They were going to Iraq to fight on my behalf, and on behalf of all of us, to make sure this never happened again," he said.
The museum is home to 10 of the 50-ton World Trade Center steel tridents which were created at Lukens Steel in Coatesville and became an iconic image of twisted steel from that terrible day.
A bell was rung four times during the morning, followed each time by a moment of silence to mark times of historic significance involving the attacks on the Twin Towers, Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 in western Pennsylvania.
City Councilman Donald Folks, who represents the city's Second Ward, said he heard about the tragedy on the radio, and his most vivid memory is what occurred in the days and weeks and months that followed the attack on America.
"I can remember days after when everybody was nice to everybody," he said. "Everybody would hold a door, everybody would speak so nice, somebody would let you into a parking stall. And 9/11 made that happen, and for weeks and months we felt like one."
Folks said things have changed since then.
I prayed for the families, the victims going to work and even cried because hi happened on our soil," he said.
“Remembrance equals hope,” Dinniman said. “As individuals, when we remember the fallen, their lives become part of our lives. As a nation, when we remember September 11, we remember what it means to be united and what it means to be Americans. Today, we seem to have forgotten that. We need this reminder and we need to remember.”
Said state Sen. Andrew Dinniman: “Remembrance equals hope. As individuals, when we remember the fallen, their lives become part of our lives. As a nation, when we remember September 11, we remember what it means to be united and what it means to be Americans. Today, we seem to have forgotten that. We need this reminder and we need to remember.”
Dinniman and state Rep. Dan Williams offered their powerful remarks at the National Iron and Steel Heritage Museum’s annual September 11 Commemoration cvent. They were joined by other officials including Jim Ziegler, the museum’s Executive Director, and the Chester County Commissioners in remembering the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Chester County Commissioner Michele Kichline said the event causes her to reflect on what it means to live in Chester County, and how that experience compares with the experience of living somewhere else.
"I live in Chester County because we are surrounded by peacemakers," she said. "Peacemakers whose motives are simply to protect and serve their neighbors. Today we honor the memory of those who put their own lives on the line to save the lives of others."
In the attack on America, 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers died when the towers came down. At the Pentagon, 55 military personnel were killed as well as one law enforcement officer on United Flight-93.
Five Chester County victims of the 9/11 attack were honored. They are: Richard Stewart from Kennett, Christopher Clarke of Devon, Michael Horrocks, a graduate of West Chester University, Kevin Marlo a graduate of Henderson High School, and George Smith a graduate of Phoenixville High School.
Chester County residents who aided in the post 9/11 recovery and salvage efforts were honored at the event.
They include: Upper Uwchlan police officers Chief John DeMarco and Detective Thomas Jones, Kennett Square firefighter Lou Angeli, New York firefighter James Thompson and Veteran Administration firefighter Kevin Chandler, Andrew Englander of Elverson EMS, Westtown East Goshen police officers Sgt. William Cahill, Cpl. Timothy Hubbard and Detective Robert Balchunis, as well as Dan O’Deen of the American Red Cross.