1st responders pose in front of a tower
Monday, first responders, community members, and local officials gathered at Ariel-Foundation Park to remember those who died in the attacks. 

MOUNT VERNON – Many memories fade, but some things are etched in the mind forever.

Americans experienced such an event on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked two airliners and crashed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Twenty-two years ago at 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 hit the north tower.

At 9:03 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 hit the south tower. Both towers collapsed by 10:30 a.m.

At 9:37 a.m., another hijacked plane hit the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed near Shanksville, PA, at 10:03 a.m.

Monday, first responders, community members, and local officials gathered at Ariel-Foundation Park to remember those who died in the attacks. 

Ava Burns sang the national anthem, and Police Chaplain Jerry Scott led a prayer.

Mayor Matt Starr paid tribute to the first responders who went into action that day and who do so today.

“We can’t thank you enough,” he said.

Starr went through the numbers:

  • 2,977 people killed, most of them civilians
  • 343 members of the New York City fire department (FDNY) and 71 law enforcement officers died in the World Trade Center and on the ground 
  • 2,750 died in the initial attacks at the trade center
  • 55 military personnel died at the Pentagon

“People have since died of illnesses caused by exposure to dust from the site,” he said.

Starr read several quotes, including one from Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl: “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learned that life is short, and there is no time for hate.”

“Despite the horrific events that took place, we all have a choice how we react,” he said.

“We can’t say thank you enough.”

mayor matt starr

Never forget

Mount Vernon Fire Chief Chad Christopher said there are events and times that you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. 

“This is one of those events,” he said.

He was at the Ohio Fire Academy for EMT training, practicing taking blood pressures.

“The instructor came in and told us, and they shut down the fire academy and sent us home,” he said. “We came back to the fire station.

Dena Hess-McKinstry was at home and saw the plane crash. 

“The phone rang, and my dad said stay at home,” she recalled. “I said no, it was just a plane crash. He said stay home.

“If you remember the silence of the skies … I’ll never forget how the world just changed,” she continued. “Some of you weren’t even born when it happened, but it’s so important to remember.”

One man said 9/11 was “my generation’s JFK moment.”

Receiving a call from his dad, he turned on the news in time to see the second plane hit the tower.

“For a lot of us in the fire service, many of our firefighters either weren’t alive or were very young [that day],” Chief Mark McCann of the Central Ohio Joint Fire District said. “I think, as we move forward, there will be less of us that experienced that day, and it will be up to the younger generation to never forget.

“It’s important to remember how strong we are together, and how weak we are when we aren’t.”

Lessons learned

McCann referenced the 9-11 aftermath report. The report noted that although no emergency response is flawless, three things were evident that we can learn from today:

  • The strong, professional relationship and trust among responders
  • The strength of incident command
  • The unified response

“Today here we stand, maybe not in that emergency, but we stand united,” he said.

Honoring the FDNY

Dispatch tones went off at 8:45 a.m. in Monday’s memorial service. Following a moment of silence, local firefighters climbed the Rastin Tower.

They carried with them a box containing the names of those who lost their lives that day 22 years ago. They spent a few minutes in reflection before making their way back down.

The climb is to honor the New York firefighters who climbed the stairs to rescue people trapped in the World Trade Center towers.

“Many of them knew they weren’t coming home; probably all of them,” Chief Christopher said. “But they had a job to do. We try to remember them as we climb the stairwell.

“As we descend back down, we try to remember those who had to walk the stairwell trying to get to safety. Some made it; many others did not.”

The Life & Culture section is brought to you by Knox Community Hospital.

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