Events held locally to commemorate Patriot Day

Residents recount memories of 2001 terror attacks

Veterans, first responders and others who attended a ceremony marking Patriot Day at Washington State Community College mingle as they wait for proceedings to begin Wednesday morning. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

The memories of those who experienced the events of Sept. 11, 2001, are as varied as the individual lives the attacks affected, but the courage of first responders that day is what Marietta chose to remember in ceremonies at Marietta College and Washington State Community College.

Hannah Kitchen, an AmeriCorps representative at Washington State, told a gathering of about 200 people in front of the main administration building that 23 New York Police Department officers, 37 Port Authority of New York police officers, eight emergency medical technicians, 343 firefighters and 53 active duty military personnel died that day, responding to the crisis.

“It was the bloodiest day on American soil since the Civil War. It changed the way we travel, the way we look at each other, but the biggest change is in how we empathize, how we view each other as neighbors, not strangers,” she said.

Tiffany Jarvis, a 20-year-old EMT from the Beverly-Waterford department, spoke about how the events of that day, which took place 18 years ago, have affected life for first responders.

“Of the first responders who started work that day, 403 did not go home that night, and even during that chaos, their cities still had emergency service coverage,” she said. “Every day, we go on shift not knowing what we will face. But from that day, we’ve seen improved emergency communications, travel safety. I am still receiving training derived from what was learned that day.”

Hannah Kitchen, the AmeriCorps representative who organized the Patriot Day ceremonies at Washington State Community College Wednesday morning, joins others in the Pledge of Allegiance as veterans raise the flag to half-staff. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

The ceremonies included a speech from state Sen. Frank Hoagland, R-30th, who recalled his military service around the globe and said, “This is the greatest country in the world to live in.”

Brenden Smith sang a subdued a cappella rendition of the national anthem at the Marietta College ceremony, attended by several dozen people. Up the hill from the flagpole on the Christy Mall, the swath of green lawn around the amphitheater was spiked with flags of the nations whose people died 18 years ago – there were citizens of more than 60 countries killed – surrounded by an edging of U.S. flags.

Smith, a Parkersburg student who is in his second year of music studies at the college, was a toddler at the time the attacks occurred.

“When I think about it, I get a feeling of sadness, that it was traumatizing when the planes hit,” he said after the ceremony. “I think this is a good way to honor that memory.”

Marietta College president William Ruud told the gathering, “Keep those 2,977 folks in your heart.”

Marietta College music student Brenden Smith sings the national anthem at a Wednesday morning ceremony on the campus to mark Patriot Day. (Photo by Michael Kelly)

The Washington State memorial included a rendition of the anthem by the Vocal Point choir from Marietta High School, and the event concluded with “Taps” played by a bugler.

“This is not just a time of service but also a time of remembrance,” Kitchen said. “Let’s try to remember that spirit of unity and empathy.”

Michael Kelly can be contacted at mkelly@mariettatimes.com.