It wasn’t just unsuspecting workers and tourists whose lost their lives in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, but hundreds of first responders as well.
(Photo by Brian Hagberg. The “Field of Flags” at Warren County Memorial Park, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.)
That’s part of the message the September 11 Project aims to convey each year during its 9/11 memorial ceremony. They pray not just for the 9/11 victims, but also name each Warren County first responder who has passed away during the previous year.
“It’s personal to us,” September 11 Project Coordinator Ruth Seebeck said. “It’s a chance for us to say, ‘We do remember.'”
The ceremony, held annually since 2006, typically takes place in front of the “Field of Flags” at Warren County Memorial Park, and draws approximately 400 people. In addition to the prayer and reading of names, the event usually has a bagpiper, bugler and an a cappella group as well.
That type of crowd wasn’t possible this year due to state gathering restrictions as part of the COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Instead, Project leaders opted to record the prayer and reading of names, then post on Facebook.
“As a veteran, it’s my way to pay homage to those that died that day,” Bunky Froman, who originally came up with the ceremony concept, said.
(Photo by Brian Hagberg. The “Field of Flags” behind the Sept. 11 memorial at Warren County Memorial Park, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.)
The “Field of Flags” contains one United States flag for each of the 2,977 who perished that day. Additionally, there are Pennsylvania state flags for each Pennsylvania military member who has been killed in action in either Afghanistan or Iraq since 9/11.
“Two or three years ago we added the rows of Pennsylvania flags,” Seebeck said. “It’s just a chance for us to say ‘Thank you’ to them and show that we care.”
The flags also show just how invested in the remembrance ceremony the community is.
“It’s completely supported by the community,” Seebeck said.
As the attack itself moves further into history, the importance of holding a remembrance ceremony grows.
“Nineteen years have gone by,” Seebeck said. “Most of the population 25 and under doesn’t remember the day itself, so there’s no other way for them to process (the event).”
Reading the names of local first responders helps show how important they were, not just on 9/11, but to the daily lives of local community members as well.
“How can you say thank you enough,” Seebeck said. “The selflessness of those first responders and military members is astounding.”
The names read at this year’s ceremony were:
Richard White, Warren City PD, died Sept. 10, 2019
Mary Drukenbrod, Tidioute VFD and one of the county’s first EMTs, died Oct. 1, 2019
Eugene Wiler, Pleasant Township VFD, died Oct. 6, 2019
Roger N. Johnson, Warren City PD, died Nov. 1, 2019
Byron “BG” Swanson, Scandia VFD, Pleasant VFD, died Dec. 5, 2019
Raymond Morrison, Jr, City of Warren FD, died Dec. 10, 2019
Dorothy Ohmer, Russell VFD Ladies Auxiliary, died Dec. 22, 2019
Gregory Stewart, Warren County Sheriff Dept., died Jan. 18, 2020
Geraldine Long, Youngsville VFD, died Feb. 2, 2020
Tpr. Joseph Bullock, Florida Highway Patrol (from Clarendon), killed in the line of duty Feb. 5, 2020
Thomas Swanson, Youngsville PD, died Feb. 17, 2020
Carl Johnson, Sugar Grove VFD, died Feb. 24, 2020
Jacquelin Cunningham, Russell VFD Ladies Auxiliary, died Feb. 28, 2020
Charlett Johnson, Scandia VFD Ladies Auxiliary, died March 24, 2020
Ida Kitelinger, Pleasant VFD Ladies Auxiliary, died April 19, 2020
Jerliee Spargo, Deputy Sheriff and corrections officer was the first K9 officer in Warren, died April 14, 2020
Thomas Lundberg, Russell VFD, died April 14, 2020
Paul McCluskey, Pleasant VFD, died May 7, 2020
Roberty J. Nordstrom, North Warren VFD, died May 24, 2020
Thomas Mintzer, North Warren VFD, died June 8, 2020
Henry Edward Wilson, Lander VFD, died June 7, 2020
Irene R. Benson, Bear Lake VFD Auxiliary, died June 9, 2020
Bruno J. Vavala, Glade VFD, died June 20, 2020
Majorie Ann Herberg, Youngsville VFD, died July 4, 2020
Dorothy E. Repine, Sheffield VFD Auxiliar, died July 13, 2020
Raymond Dale Davidson, Sheffield VFD, died July 17, 2020
George A. Probst, Youngsville VFD, died July 12, 2020
Raymond A. Walter, Youngsville VFD, died July 23, 2020
Steven Jon Ettinger, Cherry Grove and Clarendon VFD, died Aug. 13, 2020
Ronald Clinton Bean, Sheffield VFD, died Aug. 15, 2020
Harry ‘Dan’ Rosenquist, Jr., Starbrick VFD, died Aug. 16, 2020
Frank Viola, Sr., City of Warren VFD, died Sept. 4, 2020
Ruby Haynes, Spring Creek VFD, died Sept. 1, 2020