AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The 9/11 Memorial Park in Austintown will have a special service on September 11, marking 15 years since the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93.
The memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the park on Raccoon Road.
There are reminders of the tragedy all around the park but for the people who helped start and design it, it’s like a second home.
Bill O’Hara, a firefighter, is on the 9/11 Memorial Committee and helps take care of the park.
“We ended up losing 343 firefighters in New York. We are all brothers and sisters when we’re firefighters,” he said.
The park runs solely on donations and volunteers.
“When I established this, I made one rule and there was only one rule that’s a must: no politics,” said Patrick Connolly, chairman of the 9/11 Memorial Committee.
Austintown Township donated the land for Connolly to start the park. From the beginning, he wanted it to be special.
“Just to put up a stone and everything, that wouldn’t have been enough.”
Walkways honor the first responders who lost their lives on 9/11. Dirt from the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania is spread throughout the park. There’s limestone from the Pentagon and beams from the World Trade Center.
“Means everything to me. This is my life right here,” Connolly said.
The park means a lot to the community, too. Every year, people show up for the somber 9/11 memorial service. Fire trucks line Raccoon Road where there is a salute to the victims.
“If you can look at that and not get a tear in your eye, there’s something wrong with you, that’s it. There’s no other way of putting it,” O’Hara said.
The committee expects many people at this year’s service. O’Hara will be there as well, honoring his fallen brothers and sisters.
The committee is always looking for volunteers to help with the park’s upkeep. Anyone interested can go to the park for more information.