CONWAY — Never forget. That was the refrain voiced by speakers at a ceremony attended by about 80 people in North Conway’s Schouler Park on Wednesday morning marking the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“We are here to honor, remember and pray for the over 3,000 lives that were lost on that tragic day,” said event chair and state Rep. Steve Woodcock (D-Conway), member of American Legion Post 95 of North Conway. “And beyond that, we cannot and should not forget the families and friends that are still impacted each day by these losses.”
Woodcock also saluted the men and women who have served the country since the attack in 2001, and the 6,993 killed, 350,000 wounded “and the more than 900,000 who will carry the mental scars of war forever.”
Handing out American flags were Kennett Task Force Eagle members, including computing teacher and Navy veteran Joe Riddensdale and junior ROTC members Dakota Buffington, Dominick Saunders, Silas Feuerborn, Medea Gargan and Cayleigh Mohla.
They held a “Heroes’ Flag of Honor” that included the names of the 3,000 people who died on 9/11 after terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in New York. Another hijacked jetliner was flown into a field in Pennsylvania.
Gargan, a 17-year-old senior who is to enlist in the Air Force after graduating from Kennett, read a tribute that told about the “Heroes’ Flag of Honor,” noting it was created by John Michelotti as “an enduring symbol, recognized by the world, of the human sacrifice that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Kennett High buglers Abby Lyman, 17, of Center Conway and Molly Damon, 16, of Tamworth played taps at the conclusion of the moving ceremony. Neither was alive at the time of the attacks.
But, Lyman said, “We have learned about it in school, and my mom and I have talked about it many times.”
Added Damon, “It’s important that we learn about it. ... It changed the way we look at things forever.”
The ceremonies opened with a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time 18 years ago that American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower of New York’s World Trade Center.
Wednesday’s ceremony included prayers and reflections by local clergy, including Pastor Sean Dunker-Bendigo of the Madison Church, who said, “There is no history without remembering.”
Pastor John Hughes of the Conway Village Congregational Church gave the opening remarks and the Rev. Sue Davidson of the Center Conway Methodist Church and Pastor Gail Doktor of the Jackson Community Church gave closing prayers.
First responders present included Conway and Jackson officers and members of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department. Representatives also were present from the North Conway and Center Conway fire departments.
Also from American Legion Post 95 was Post Cmdr. Jim Lefebvre and David Haskell, the latter of whom rang a bell representing the four crash sites. Representing American Legion Post 46 was Auxiliary President Sheila Gormely and secretary Maggie Graves.
Roses were laid in honor of fallen fire personnel by Fire Chiefs Pat Preece of the North Conway and Glenn Merrill of Center Conway. North Conway Assistant Fire Chief Chad McCarthy and Capt. John Morris of Center Conway paid tribute to EMTs.
Representing law enforcement were Chief Chris Perley of Jackson, Lt. Chris Mattei of Conway Police, and Sheriff’s Deputies Richard Young and Tim Thompson, along with Conway Police Sgts. Terrence Spittler, William Strong Ryan Wallace and Jaymes Lapoint, Cpl. Sean McGrath, Detectives Richard Theberge and Chad Smith and Master Patrol Officer Adam Voelbel, and Staff Sgt. Nathan Boothby of the Jackson Police Department.
Presenting a rose as in past years was Helen Goss of Chalmers Insurance, representing those in the financial sector who lost their lives in the World Trade Center.
Woodcock thanked all for attending, “first to honor, remember and pray for the victims and families of those lost, killed or injured on Sept. 11 and to never forget. Second, to pay tribute to those first responders that still bear the mental and physical scars of that tragedy. And finally, once again to offer our thanks from this community, to those first responders in our valley, that every day answer the call on our behalf without hesitation.”
Later Wednesday, the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual “America Supports You — Freedom Walk” from the covered bridge through the village.
Nationally, ceremonies were held, including in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.
Putting 9/11 in perspective tonight will be American Legion Post 95’s Lefebvre, who will give a talk at the Lobster Trap Restaurant on West Side Road at 5:30 p.m.
As part of Post 95’s bimonthly meeting, Lefebvre will speak about his experiences on 9/11 working with military personnel near the Pentagon at the time of the attack.
The dinner is open to the public. Post 95 normally meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 116 Kearsarge St. in North Conway Village at 7 p.m.
For more information, call Lefebvre at (603) 356-7627.