Sept. 11: Chester County remembers that fateful day

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.

Note: The story is a combined piece from three Daily Local News writers, including Candice Monhollan.

A flag purchased shortly after 9/11 is held by Eileen Petree during the September 11th Remembrance Ceremony at Brandywine Battlefield Park in Chadds Ford on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The event honored those at the Battle of the Brandywine in 1777, and those who perished in the terrorist attacks of 2001. (Vinny Tennis)

A flag purchased shortly after 9/11 is held by Eileen Petree during the September 11th Remembrance Ceremony at Brandywine Battlefield Park in Chadds Ford on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The event honored those at the Battle of the Brandywine in 1777, and those who perished in the terrorist attacks of 2001. (Vinny Tennis)

Many Chester County communities on Thursday held special observances to remember the deadliest attack on U.S. soil and the nation’s most tragic day: Sept. 11, 2001.

In Oxford, more than 100 people gathered at Oxford Memorial Park for a tribute to honor the victims of 9/11, including members of Oxford Cub Scout Pack 213. The scouts listened as Oxford Mayor Geoff Henry gave a brief description of events leading up to the fateful day, and how emergency responders put their lives on the line.

“I thought this would send a really good message to our kids who weren’t even alive when 911 happened,” said Mike Waite, cubmaster of Pack 213. “I want them to know how our emergency responders risk their lives to give back to the community and keep the community safe. Cub Scouts stand for giving back to the community.”

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Officials of Union Fire Co. No. 1 and Oxford Police Dept. were on hand for the ceremony.

“Nearly 3,000 lost their lives and many, like I, were surprised the death toll was not higher,” Waite said. “The collapse of those two 110-story skyscrapers left a pile of rubble and debris seven stories high covering many city blocks. The reason more people did not perish had to do with the dedication and selfless acts of hundreds of emergency responders who rushed to the scene.”

Events marked the somber occasion in other communities in Chester County and in nearby Chadds Ford, Delaware County, as well.

In Coatesville, bells solemnly rang while more than 100 people bowed their heads at the Coatesville Remembers 9/11 ceremony Thursday.

In Caln, Girl and Boy Scouts at Caln Elementary School today raised the American flag in a small ceremony in front of the school in honor of Patriots Day to remember 9/11.

In West Chester on Thursday evening, dozens of university students with candles in hand gathered alongside firefighters, police officers and veterans on the front steps of Sykes Student Union to remember the victims and their families, and to recognize those currently serving the country.

“It really does mean a lot to see a community come out like this,” said “Yaya” Al-Dhahraa, president of the Student Veterans Group.

Al-Dhahraa, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, presented West Chester University with United States and POW/MIA flags.

Student Veterans Group and the Sykes Union Advisory Board organized a moment of silence at 9:11 p.m. for those who lost their lives 13 years ago.

The university’s marching band performed “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner” to memorialize the event.

Al-Dharhraa said he is proud of what his country has given to the world since 9/11, and how the nation has rebuilt itself.

“This is our community, our country, our school,” Al-Dharhraa said. “This is who we are.”

In Chadds Ford, the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates invited all out to remember the day in two ways.

Today, Sept. 11 is synonymous with the attacks in 2001, but what many don’t know and what the Remembrance Ceremony tries to bring light to is that 237 years ago, the Battle of the Brandywine also took place on that date.

The ceremony occurred at the same time as when the battle was still raging on all those years ago.

“Two world-changing events occurred on the same date, separated by 224 years,” noted Gene Pisasale, who portrays Col. Alexander Hamilton from the Revolutionary War. “One was the Battle of the Brandywine, the largest military engagement in America up until the Civil War. The latter one was an act of lunacy by terrorists, which shocked the world.”

Roughly 40 people came out to remember the two events and take part in the ceremony, which featured a handful of Revolutionary War re-enactors, Pisasale as Hamilton and Carl Closs as General George Washington.

A moment of silence was followed by the ringing of the Remembrance Bell.

The Petrees, a couple in attendance from Media, came out to see the ceremony for the first time.

“We just always want to remember,” said Eileen Petree, who was holding an old, semi-tattered American flag. “This particular flag we bought down in Cape May the weekend right after 9/11.”

Standing on the very same ground where so many once fought and lost their lives was a fitting way to remember all who perished in 1777 and 2001 in two of America’s darkest times, the couple said.

“Both have earned an important place in our heritage,” Pisasale said. “Each year, here, at Brandywine Battlefield, (we honor) the day Lafayette fought with General Washington to help us gain our independence and the tragic one more recently, as significant in our history.”

In Oxford earlier in the day, Mayor Henry said the event in his town will likely become an annual observance.

“Lest we forget the trials and tribulations and sacrifices of our servicemen and women, and our first responders,” Henry said. “It couldn’t be more fitting to have (the ceremony) in front of this memorial that represents hundreds of thousands of lives that have been lost over the many years that our country has been in existence.”

When a moment of silence was called for to remember the 911 victims, not a whisper could be heard, even from the scores of young Cub Scouts.

“This is a good way to recognize the tragedy that occurred 13 years ago,” said Henry.


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Categories: Community, History, Military

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