Numerous first responders were among those to participate in a candlelight vigil as part of the 15th observance of the 9/11 attacks at Crisman Memorial Park. Trucks from United Fore Company of Montrose and Clifford Township Volunteer Fire Company (top) were perched at the entrance to the park, supporting a large American flag.
Photos and Story by Rick Hiduk
Numerous civic organizations, military veterans, first responders and elected officials turned out on a beautiful evening to mark the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America at Danny Crisman Memorial Park in South Montrose on Monday.
The park was started in 2002 by the Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains and Debbie Crisman to honor her son who perished at the World Trade Center site in New York City. The park has grown to acknowledge all of those who died that day and has become the “go to” place for Susquehanna County residents to mark the tragedy.
Retired CSM Don Robinson (above) served as master of ceremonies for the event, which was opened by an invocation by Pastor Bob Kadlecik and a stellar rendition of the national anthem by Hayden Brunges. In his welcoming remarks, Robinson thanked the Boy Scouts of Troop 92 for their participation in the color guard and to the audience for bringing their children to the event. When it came to the first responders, most of who were gathered near the entrance of the park behind the audience.
“I’ve tried to think of something stronger to say than ‘Thank You,’” Robinson stated. He asked the crowd to rise to their feet, turn to the policeman, fireman and other emergency personnel and give them a round of applause. The audience (above) obliged enthusiastically.
The flag behind the speakers, Robinson noted, was flown over the US capitol in honor of the 9/11 victims, including Father Michael Judge, the first reported casualty of the Twin Towers bombing. The crowd rose to their feet on their own accord when Brunges sang “God Bless the USA” with guitar accompaniment from Jeff Hughes. It was one of few times that the audience broke their reverent silence by responding with polite applause.
CheChe Kerr and Beverly Arnold placed wreaths at the main memorial prior to remarks from 11th District Rep. Jonathan Fritz.
As he looked out upon the crowd, the setting sun, and a farmer haying the nearby field, Fritz (below) said, “I’m assured that we do live in the most beautiful place on the planet. The American fabric is the strongest in the world.”
Robinson then introduced retired Commander Jamie Burts (below), who was at the Pentagon the day of the bombing. He related that he had performed some routine morning duties and was about to leave the building when CNN TV reports of the first plane crash in NYC caught his eye. When he saw the second plane hit, he knew the day would be anything but routine.
Just a few hours later, a plane hit the Pentagon not too far from his office. There was no building-wide intercom in service, he related, so only word-of-mouth followed the enormous percussion, ordering everyone to evacuate the building. It was obvious the next morning, Burts related, that the world had changed forever.
“Where a day before I was waved into the office with a smile and a flash of my badge, I now went through and interrogation at every turn,” he recalled.
A candlelight vigil ensued as Brunges sand “Even If.” The Maloney Memorial Pipe and Drum Band (below) played “Amazing Grace,” and Bud Wilcox played taps, the final notes drifting off over the farm fields. Pastor Kadlecik offered the final prayer.
Numerous people approached Mrs. Crisman (below, right) after the ceremony to thank her for the event and for her vision in starting the park. One of them was Harford Volunteer Fire Company 1st Lt. Chris Ward, who has attended every 9/11 service at the park that he has been able. He summed up his dedication to the event.
“I do it so everyone still remembers the 343 firefighters who gave their lives that day saving people,” Ward (above, left) stated. “But it’s more than that. There’s still terrorism in this world, and it’s important that everyone remember that.”
In the course of his remarks, Commander Burts stated, “We promised after 9/11 that we would never forget…Maybe we meant that we would never forget what it feels like to be an American.”
Members of United Fire Company of Montrose stand beside their truck, which, along with a truck from Clifford Township, held the massive flag aloft. Other companies to participate included units from Lawton, Rush, Snake Creek, Hop Bottom, and Harford.
American Legion Riders from Binghamton, NY, brought their bikes to South Montrose for the observance.