AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The 9/11 Memorial Park in Austintown held it’s annual service Sunday to remember the brave men and women who lost their lives 15 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001.
Old Glory whipped in the wind along Racoon Road as fire trucks from all over the area lined the street. From the 21 gun salute by Youngstown police to the ringing of the bell and choir songs, the hour long ceremony also honored first responders.
“When we start forgetting what happened, then we lost. We try to make it a point, we’ll never stop doing this,” said Sam Swoger, co-chair of the Mahoning Valley 9/11 Memorial Committee.
The service was standing room only by the time it began.
“We have to share our love and respect for every early responder at every emergency in this country,” said former Ohio Senator Harry Meshel.
Among the 2,900 people who lost their lives in the attacks 15 years ago, 343 of them were firefighters.
“For me, it’s a time to remember. I mean, obviously the great sacrifice people made, but also to remember that we always have to be ready and prepared, ready to do our job no matter what the circumstances,” said Michael Smith of the Austintown Fire Department.
Everywhere you look in the park, you see a part of the tragedy – beams that were once part of one of the Twin Towers and replica statutes of the towers engraved with “9” and “11.”
One member of the crowd has passed the park so many times that she had to stop by to pay her respects.
“Awful time for the whole United States. Everybody involved in the crash was terribly affected,” said Debby Rovder of Austintown.
The ceremony ended with a round of applause for the first responders who were there, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
The park is run solely on donations and volunteers. If you’d like to help, you can visit the park for more information.