SHFAD attends annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony

Benny Westcott

Five uniformed Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District personnel attended the annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony sponsored by the American Legion Post 10 on the north steps of the Linn County Courthouse at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 22 years to the minute after a hijacked airplane struck the World Trade Center’s North Tower in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. SHFD Engine 21, along with an Albany Fire Department engine, held up a huge American flag during the ceremony.

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek spoke during the ceremony, remembering 9/11. “As the events of the day unfolded, countless responders, firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and good samaritans showed unmatched bravery in their effort to help others,” Kotek said. “They risked their lives to help people they never met before, so those individuals would have a chance to embrace their loved ones again.

“Today and every day, we must remember and honor that remarkable courage and selflessness shown by many,” she continued. “On that day the world grieved with us, and as a country, we still carry the pain of that day, a day that forever changed our world.”

She said that “While we will always grieve, I also want to acknowledge the beautiful humanity that many showed in response to that immeasurable tragedy.”

Kotek said that in the weeks following 9/11, thousands of Oregonians coordinated to make more than 60 flights to New York City to support New Yorkers in their time of need.

“While we know no one act of kindness can make up for all the loss that was suffered on that day, every effort mattered on that day and afterwards,” the governor said. “And those efforts made us stronger together as a country.”

Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan also made a speech.

“Why is it called Patriot Day?” Duncan asked of Sept. 11. “For many, it’s the bravery and selflessness that so many civilians, fire and police personnel showed that day sacrificing their own lives to save others. Bravery such as this is the backbone of what our country is founded on. It is this patriotism our country has shown again and again since its founding.”

But Duncan explained that she thinks there’s another reason why 9/11 is known as Patriot Day.

“September 11 was preceded by a controversial presidential election that was highly contested,” she explained. “Votes were challenged and recounted. The country was severely divided along political lines. Sound familiar? Then the attacks came. With all the pain and loss this country suffered we as Americans stood up and showed our bravery. But we also showed other ways we were patriots.

“Americans on both political sides came together and put patriotism and the protection of this country ahead of political agendas,” she continued. “Our community came together as well. People in this county came together by putting differences aside and showing their love for our country. We had local citizens enlist and volunteer throughout this county.”

She said that “I remember helping at the sheriff’s office as we donated goods and packed up dozens and dozens of boxes for our military troops that were fighting the war in the Middle East.”

Duncan noted that “Today, we face many of the same challenges we did before 9/11. Many are allowing politics to divide us on the local and national level. My hope is that we can act together as we did in 9/11 without needing the tragedy that brought us there.

“This doesn’t mean we can’t have differences,” she said. “It means that we listen to each other and act on what is best for our community and nation, not just what’s best for our parties. We should remember what 9/11 taught us. We are strongest when we unite as one country. We are the United States. To me this is patriotism.”

The opening and closing remarks at the ceremony were made by David Solomon, American Legion Post 10 commander and first responder at the World Trade Center on that fateful day.

A presentation of colors was done by the Grand Ronde Native American Color Guard, and the national anthem was played on the trumpet by 14-year-old Jackson Hayzlett.

Praise in 3D sang America The Beautiful, Let There Be Peace, and God Bless The USA.

Other guest speakers included Albany City Manager Peter Troedsson, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Kelly Fitzpatrick, Albany Fire Department Battalion Chief Jamie Smith, and Oregon State Elks Association President Nick Bettencourt.

Steve Fowler of Willamette Valley Pipes and Drums played Amazing Grace on the bagpipe. Wreaths were laid on stands as tribute to the victims of the tragedy. Post 10 Chaplain Floyd Bacon gave an invocation and a benediction. The Post 10 Honor Guard performed a Firing of Honors.