Across county, residents recall impact of 9/11
Intelligencer Journal

Published: Sep 12, 2007 2:06 AM EST


Maggie Hess listened intently as the Rev. Bill Worley recalled serving in Iraq as a chaplain with the 3rd Battalion, 14th Marines.

Tears fell from her cheeks as he spoke about injured soldiers and a belief in angels and encouraged people to work together to create a better future for today's youth.

Hess was one of about 150 people who attended a ceremony at Southern Market Center in downtown Lancaster Tuesday commemorating the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and paying tribute to the approximately 3,000 people who lost their lives that day in New York City, Shanksville and the Pentagon.

"I didn't personally know anyone who was killed," the Lancaster woman said. "But I wanted to come and pay my respects and to honor everyone who died that day. It was something I wanted and needed to do."

During the 30-minute ceremony, local officials and clergy spoke about the events of 9/11 and their lasting effects, several alluding to the unity of the nation in the days following the attacks.

"In the days after, there was a prevailing sense of patriotism throughout the nation," Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray said. "The little lines we draw in life, the differences, were forgotten. We were all Americans, and we were concerned about one another."

Gray encouraged people to recall that solidarity, and he said he believes it would be the most appropriate way to remember the victims of 9/11.

"Following 9/11, we all drove with a little less rage, showed a little more compassion … and prayed with a little more conviction," Worley said. "In our worst days, we became our best selves."

Worley, senior pastor at First Reformed Church, United Church of Christ, said people should find a way to reconnect to those feelings. He also said the way people choose to live together as a community will determine the future.

Tuesday's ceremony was attended by about a dozen uniformed city firefighters along with other members of local emergency-service organizations.

During his remarks, Lancaster city police Chief Sam Gatchell said it's important not only to remember those who lost their lives on 9/11 but to honor local emergency workers who continue to serve the community.

"It's like the batter in the on-deck circle, taking countless swings at imaginary balls," Gatchell said. "Firefighters, police and EMS try to visualize every possible situation. They spend countless hours in training, preparing.

"The difference is, when the athlete goes to bed at night, he can't wait to get the chance to use those skills. When a firefighter goes to bed, he's thanking the Lord he didn't have to."

Also Tuesday, about 150 people attended a ceremony at Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center in East Hempfield Township.

Lancaster County commissioners read the names of the 41 Lancaster County firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel who have died in the line of duty.

Outside the building, 444 flags decorated the grass to honor those 41 and also the 403 New York City emergency responders who died when the twin towers collapsed.