WILMINGTON — The speaker at the local 9/11 event Friday recommended several things residents can do to acknowledge the lives lost and the lionhearted first responders.
Jack Powell, president of the Wilmington Noon Rotary Club, said continuing the annual 9/11 anniversaries in a public setting clearly is one way Clinton Countians can try to do justice toward that day’s tragic events.
The anniversary ceremony was begun by then-Mayor David Raizk, kept going by former Mayor Randy Riley and now is carried on by Mayor John Stanforth, noted Powell. The commemoration, he said, provides time to reflect.
“I also think we need to educate ourselves on what happened and why. The ‘why’ part, I’m not sure if we’ll ever understand, but I think we do need to educate ourselves,” said Powell.
Part of that education, he said, involves talking to children about “what this day means to our country.”
In addition, a look-back ought to stress having a daily appreciation for first-responders such as firefighters, EMTs and police, said Powell.
“We need to ‘raise up’ the first-responders in a way that models respect for what they do, while holding them accountable for their actions,” he stated.
An executive in the financial industry, Powell added, “I think we can also be proud to be a nation and a country that rewards hard work and perseverance, but still encourages selflessness and generosity. And we see this modeled in Clinton County on a daily basis.”
An example of that generosity, he said, is this year’s fund-raising to send military veterans to the nation’s capital as part of the Honor Flight program.
“This is just one example of what makes Clinton County a true community,” said Powell.
In the invocation prayer, he asked God to protect the protectors — the first-responders — by placing “a hedge of thorns around them.”
Some 400 firefighters and police died while responding to the 9/11 attacks against the World Trade Center towers in New York City, said Wilmington Police Chief Duane Weyand in opening remarks.
Prior to writing the keynote speech, Powell contacted a friend in New York City to hear thoughts from a closer vantage point. The friend sent the names of 16 people he knew who died that day.
Powell asked the audience to put that in a personal perspective — 16 friends and acquaintances gone in a day, most of them in the prime of life.
In the response, Powell’s friend also requested that the retired chief of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police Department be kept in prayers.
“Tom lost 37 of his officers that day, 37. I just can’t fathom some of these numbers,” commented Powell.
Clinton County Commissioner President Mike Curry also spoke during the Friday morning program. Wilmington Fire Department Lt. Ed Myers played bagpipes, Clinton County Commissioner Kerry Steed conducted a tolling of the local Freedom Bell, Kya Resor sang the national anthem, the U.S. flag was lowered to half-staff, and the American Legion Post 49 Memorial Squad delivered a 21-gun salute in three volleys.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.