Large crowd commemorates 9/11 anniversary at Patriot memorial service

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A crowd of more than 200 people showed up in Patriot on Sunday night for the memorial service commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Attacks on America that occurred on September 11th, 2001.

The event was coordinated by member of the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department as well as members of the community; and people – young and old – turned out to pay their respects. The event also marked the official unveiling of piece of steel that came from one of the World Trade Center towers. The steel had been granted to the Patriot Volunteer Fire Department by officials in New York; and took its permanent place in the Patriot Memorial Park on Sunday night.

The evening began at about 8:30 p.m., as a large crowd gathered at the Patriot firehouse for a candlelight walk to the Memorial Park. The crowd walked down Main Street, and then turned up State Road 250 towards the park as firetrucks raised a large American Flag.

The ceremony at the park began with community members, firefighters, and military veterans helping to raise the flags in the park from half staff to full. Mark Powell of Patriot played “The National Anthem” while the flags were raised back into position.

Mike Jones, pastor of Patriot Baptist Church and President of the Switzerland County Council, welcomed everyone to the ceremony and then opened with prayer. He then led those assembled in the “Pledge of Allegiance.”

Patrick Lanman, pastor of Olive Branch Baptist Church, then spoke on the importance of memorials and how those in attendance and all Americans should dedicate themselves to being “living memorials” so that future generations would never forget the sacrifices that were made and the lives that were lost 10 years earlier.

His remarks were followed by Mark Powell performing the song, “There Goes My Hero”.

It was then time to officially unveil the section of the Twin Towers, which had been draped by an American Flag that included all of those lost on September 11th, 2001.

The steel itself is the top plate of a beam that is approximately two feet long and three inches thick, and weighs approximately 300 pounds. It is certified to have come from the World Trade Centers, but there is no way of knowing which building the beam was a part of because of all of the devastation that day.

George Miller said that he had heard that pieces of steel from the Twin Towers had been given to fire departments around the country; and he thought that there was no more suitable place for a piece of the steel that in the only incorporated town in the country named ‘Patriot’.

Ed Scheele, District 19 chairman of the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association, then read a letter from former President George W. Bush that had been written at the time of the attacks; and Ed Gerdowsky, chaplain of the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association, gave some personal observations.

Mike Jones then read a statement written by Lee Hamilton. He served for 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and represented Switzerland County. He served as the co-chairman of the Commission that studies the 9/11 attacks, appointed by President Bush.

The statement read:

Ten eventful years have passed since violent Islamist extremists, members of the terrorist organization al Qaeda, hijacked four commercial aircraft and killed nearly 3,000 of our fellow Americans and citizens of foreign countries, changing our society forever. I salute the patriotism, commitment, and resilience of my fellow Americans as we remember this singular and tragic event in our nation’s history.

The eventful day ten years ago has changed each of us. We each view security as something different then we did that day. I commend to citizens the Patriot, Indiana for taking time to commemorate this day. May this memorial always be a reminder to the people that lost their lives on 9/11.

Following that, Josh Hisle, former U.S. Marine, performed the song “Bring My Brothers Home”; and then Patriot Fire Chief George Miller spoke of the 343 firefighters and responders who lost their lives that day, giving “last call” in their honor.

In keeping with firefighter tradition, those heroes were honored with three rings of five bells by Patriot Volunteer Fire Department member Mark Powell – the official signal of mourning when a firefighter is lost.

The program closed with Donovan Blasdell playing “Taps” and Mike Jones closed in prayer.

Following the ceremony, everyone in attendance was invited to walk past the Twin Towers beam, and as they did, many chose to simply reach out their hand and touch the piece, laying their hand on history – and evoking many emotions from several of the residents.

George Miller said that the decision has been made to let the piece rust naturally and not take steps to cover it in anyway, so it will remain in the natural state just like the community got it.