SWARTZ CREEK — Honoring the 2,977 souls lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, the GFWC Swartz Creek Women’s Club hosted the inaugural Remembrance Ceremony on Friday – Patriot’s Day – at the Veterans’ Memorial in Swartz Creek.
The ceremony included remarks from local dignitaries, a gun salute by the VFW/AmVets Honor Guard, and prayers.
Swartz Creek Area Fire Department Lt. Robert Fitzpatrick remarked that 343 “of New York’s bravest” (firefighters) lost their lives when they raced into the Twin Towers as they burned and, ultimately, collapsed.
“When I see the faces of the 343, I see courage and selflessness and love in their eyes,” Fitzpatrick said.
He added that one victim, in particular, stands out in his memory: Fr. Mychal Judge, FDNY chaplain. Fr. Judge was one of the first responders on scene after American Airlines Flight 11, which departed from Boston Logan Airport, struck floors the North Tower at 8:46:40 in the morning.
“He prayed over the bodies in the street,” Fitzpatrick recalled.
Judge went into the lobby of the North Tower to assist in evacuating the building and comforting the survivors. He died when debris from the crumbling South Tower flew into the North Tower, striking him in the head.
“His legacy will live forever,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s why we’re here.”
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson shared a childhood memory of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and wondering, at the time, about the meaning of the word “indivisible.” As an adult, and as a leader in local law enforcement, he now recognizes the importance of unity and working together, he said.
Metro Police Authority Lt. Joel Grahn shared a similar sentiment, and he reminded the crowd of about 100 people of a quote from Sandy Dahl, wife of United Airlines Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl, who said, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”
Passengers aboard Flight 93 attempted to retake control of the hijacked aircraft, which crashed in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing all on board.
American Legion Post 294 member David Arceo also spoke, saying that those who are here today have a “true obligation” to a “common cause of selflessness and love.”