By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – As taps played, with flags at half mast, first responders, city officials, veterans and others gathered at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1136 for a 9/11 service to remember its victims.
VFW 1136 Post Commander Brian Martin said the memory of Sept. 11, 2001, will be imbedded in our minds forever.
“Buildings crashed and planes were hijacked,” he said. “America will and has risen again, only to be much stronger. We have come together, and will stay that way.”
Martin recalled the first responders, construction workers, military personnel and others who responded to help without a thought to their own safety.
“You may take down our buildings, but you will never take away our pride,” he said. “Our flags will continue to fly, and we will never forget those who gave and lost their lives on this tragic day.”
Mayor Pro Tem Robert DeSana said he can remember vividly where he was when the events unfolded that day.
“I want to thank all the men and women in the service, the police and fire departments for being on guard and protecting our citizens, our country and our cities,” he said. “My heart goes out to everything you folks do, and have done, since 9/11, and it is an honor to be here, and the community is grateful.”
Fire Chief Dan Wright said he recalled other times the United States has faced challenges, including the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
“To my generation, the event of Sept. 11, 2001, lives in our memories as vividly as the day it happened,” he said. “We shall never forget the images of planes flying into the two towers of the World Trade Center, or the smoke rising from the Pentagon.
“Nor can we forget those brave passengers who crashed their airplane into a Pennsylvania field, undoubtedly saving thousands of lives.”
Wright remembered the 414 firefighters, police officers and other emergency workers who left their families that morning and never returned home.
“Today, we stand together as service members, police officers and firefighters, and most importantly as Americans, united behind one ideal,” he said. “Whenever and wherever terrorism and tyranny choose to rise up, and attempt to extinguish the light of liberty, we will be there to defeat it.”
Police Chief Brian Zalewski said 9/11 is a day we honor the 3,000 who lost their lives in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa.
“We honor more than 6,000 service members who have given their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq, in the fight against terrorism, as well as the nearly 32,000 of those service members wounded in action,” he said. “We honor 71 law enforcement officers and 343 firefighters who perished in the World Trade Center, and the 55 service members who perished in the collapse at the Pentagon.”
Zalewski said he will remember 9/11 as a mark of America’s resilient spirit.
“We honor and remember those lost, and we also recognize on that day, that really held no special meaning to us, our country and a generation of Americans were changed in an instant we will never forget,” he said.
Wyandotte Paramedic Capt. Mike Brandt said he wanted to illustrate the loss of the 343 firefighters who died in New York City on 9/11.
“Imagine every single firefighter Downriver ceasing to exist,” he said. “That puts things in a little more perspective.”
Brandt said hundreds of first responders continue to die in the aftermath of 9/11, due to injuries sustained that day and from cancer due to the conditions to which they were exposed.
“Please remember them, as well,” he said.
Martin thanked the local American Legion and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, DeSana, City Clerk Larry Stec, and the police officers and firefighters present at the remembrance.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])