CLEARFIELD – A memorial ceremony honored service men and women and remembered the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America 17 years ago today.
It was attended by local police officers, firefighters, first responders, local officials and a handful of community members at the Clearfield County Courthouse plaza.
A bell was rung, the county’s memorial flag was raised and a memorial wreath of red, white and blue carnations was presented before the Sept. 11 memorial stone.
Seventeen years ago at 8:46 a.m., hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 crashed the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.
At 9:03 a.m., hijackers aboard United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. At 9:37 a.m., hijackers crashed Flight 77 into the western side of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, and minutes later, passengers and crew rebelled against hijackers in an effort to take back Flight 93. That plane was crashed into a field in Somerset County
At 10:28 a.m., the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.
The ceremony’s guest speaker was local military veteran and firefighter, Travis Beres, who began with a challenge to think of Sept. 10, 2001 from 8:46 a.m. until 10:28 a.m. He asked if anyone could remember what they were doing and one person raised their hand.
Then, he asked attendees to think of the same timeframe but to fast-forward 24 hours and every hand went up in the crowd. He said 17 years later, Americans still remember what they were doing that day between those times.
He said he was one year out of high school, “fresh” out of the Army and furthering his education at South Hills in State College. That day he said the first plane had already crashed into the North Tower by the time his first class was over.
Beres, along with a group of fellow students, gathered around a television in the school cafeteria to watch news coverage. They witnessed as the second plane crashed into the South Tower.
“I think everyone in that room, just like everyone across America, knew “it wasn’t an accident,” he said. “It didn’t just happen because two planes got off course and hit the exact same spot in New York City.”
Later, he passed another student who was a U.S. Marine in the hallway. The two men made eye contact and Beres said they just knew at that point the rest of their lives had changed.
On his way home, he listened to public radio in an effort to understand what was happening to his country. He learned of the planes crashing at the Pentagon and into a field in Somerset.
“We’re here for Sept. 11 and what happened that day,” Beres said. “You’ll never forget that. Now, I challenge you all again and I know you’ll accept that challenge and that’s to never forget.”
“You haven’t forgotten in 17 years, and that’s why you’re here now. It’s why the military is here, the firefighters are here, the police are here, the first responders are here and the community is here. It’s because everybody remembers.”