FMS hosts local 9/11 commemoration

Photo by Kevin Blackburn

Tuesday, Sept. 11. It was a beautiful late-summer morning on the East Coast. The sun was out, shining bright, barely a cloud in the sky.

The weather forecast for the Mid-Atlantic stretching from Virginia to New York City called for temperatures in the 80s.

As millions of Americans prepared for work and school, their world was about to change.

“People were going on with their daily lives just as they did every other day, not knowing that just a mere one minute later, their lives and the lives of millions of Americans and others around the world would be changed forever,” said Gary Critzer, the director of emergency services in Waynesboro.

Several hundred local residents gathered with Critzer and other city leaders at Fishburne Military School on Sunday for a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

It was a morning reminiscent of the one 10 year prior. The sun was out, barely a cloud in the sky, with a forecast for more of the same.

“The events of Sept. 11, 2001, touched all Americans in some manner. For those who do not live in the impacted communities, did not have a family member, friend or colleague perish or injured in the attacks, we were all touched through the unity that binds us as a nation and forms our common identity as Americans,” Waynesboro City Councilman Tim Williams said.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2011, were “intended to break our unity, our identity and our spirit as Americans,” Williams said. But the result of what was done that day only strengthened our unity “and revealed our best attributes as Americans and our patriotism.”

Photos by Kevin Blackburn/Video by Chris Graham

It has been a long 10 years. Two wars, an economic meltdown, continued economic uncertainy, ongoing political discord – it’s as if we’ve forgotten the unity that prevailed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

“While I understand the need for our nation to move past 9/11, as part of the healing process, I suppose I’m afraid that while we say we’ll never forget, that has already started to happen,” Waynesboro Fire Chief Charlie Scott said.

With dozens of members of the local police force, fire department and EMS services looking on, Waynesboro Police Chief Michael Wilhelm vowed to never forget the sacrifices made by so many front-line first-responders.

“Because of those heroes, the anniversary that we observe every Sept. 11 will always be about far more than the buildings that our enemies brought down or the damage they inflicted on our fellow citizens. It is about honoring the heroism that we witnessed on that fateful day, and the resilience that the American people have continued to show ever since,” Wilhelm said.

Video by Chris Graham

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