Valley remembers 9/11

Feelings expressed in somber local ceremonies

JANELLE PATTERSON The Marietta Times Members of the Sgt. Bob O’Malley Detachment 1436 of the Marine Corps League raise the U.S. flag to half-staff in honor of Patriot Day Monday at Washington State Community College

It’s still referred to as the worst terror attack in U.S. history.

And 16 years later those who gathered in Marietta in remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001, looked more to how the aftermath brought together the nation as a unified community grieving and ready to rebuild and defend.

“We saw the greatest in America sign up to defend this nation,” said Executive Director of the Washington County Veterans Service Commission Brian Giesey, 45, of Sarahsville, at a commemorative event at Washington State Community College. “We still see that compassion in the hearts of Americans as we see response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Patriot Day is a day to celebrate life and to never forget the events of Sept. 11 that will always be a part of our history.”

The event was attended by more than 90 students, faculty and staff of the college and local residents with Giesey, Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews and the new WSCC president Vicky Wood offering remarks.

The Sgt. Bob O’Malley Detachment 1436 of the Marine Corps League performed the raising of the flag while members of the VFW Post 5108 gave a 21 gun salute and played “Taps.”

WSCC student James Brown, 30, of McConnelsville, joined the military right out of high school, just a few years after the terror attack.

“It’s always important to remember stuff like this, people start to forget and think we’re safe and then something else happens,” he said. “I was in a high school health class, the teachers didn’t think it was real.”

After graduating in 2004 he said he wanted to serve his country like other members of his family.

“It’s a family business,” he said. “It was interesting after high school but I figured I had to do my part.”

For former WSCC student Levi Milstead, 27, of Noble County, serving in the U.S. Army in both South Korea and Afghanistan as a Blackhawk crew chief was just part of his role on this Earth.

“I don’t like to be thanked and if I had been killed I wouldn’t want people to mourn; throw a party and celebrate the life,” he said. “Today it’s more important what the attack did for the nation, that with tragedy came a brighter day.”

He said his memories from Sept. 11, are from within the classroom, though the event isn’t what prompted him to join the Army.

“I’ve wanted to fly as long as I could remember, but that day I remember I was in sixth grade in math class when a teacher came in the room and told our teacher to turn on the TV,” he said. “We just stood there and watched, trying to understand what was happening.”

Washington State Community College currently has 60 students who are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

By the numbers

¯ On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four fuel-loaded U.S. commercial airplanes bound for the west coast.

¯ At total of 2,977 people were killed between the four plane crashes in New York City, Washington D.C., and outside of Shanksville, Pa.

Source: Associated Press.