Aston and Lower Chichester townships paid tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 with solemn services.
In Aston, more than 300 residents gathered at the Township Memorial Garden at Five Points for prayer, music, speeches and reflection.
Organized by a special 9/11 committee led by township resident Barry Pinkowicz, the afternoon event featured speeches by Aston Vice President Mike Higgins; Bill Dondero representing U.S. Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-7); state Sen. Tom Killion (R-9); and state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky (D-161).
Scouts Rachael McCullough and Matthew Gane were master and mistress of ceremonies and introduced the participants which, in addition to the speakers, included the Sun Valley High School JRROTC, American Legion Post #926, firefighters, police officers, and the Sun Valley High School chorus.
Krueger-Braneky said, “Sept. 11, 2001 forever changed who we are as Americans. The course of human history was changed forever that Tuesday morning. However, in what was one of our nation’s darkest hours, hope immediately began to shine through that darkness.”
Higgins said he was working in Philadelphia that fateful morning and initially thought it was an aviation accident. Unfortunately, Higgins said, the facts became all too clear.
“By the time the morning was over, we saw videos of both towers being hit and eventually collapsing, ” Higgins said. “Then, we saw pictures of the devastation at the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.”
More than 300 township residents joined local, state and federal officials and Boy and Girl scouts in remembrance on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Killion said the attack on New York’s World Trade Center showed us what the United States is made of, and specifically that firefighters and emergency responders rushed into buildings to save as many lives as possible as most people were trying to go out.
Mount Hope United Methodist Church Pastor Rev. Thomas C. Haugh, offered the opening and closing prayers; township resident Gianni Palmarini performed “The Prayer” and “God Bless America;” members of Aston Township Fire Department (ATFD) #17 placed a red, white and blue wreath at the base of the Veterans and Emergency Responders Memorial, and joined with the Rocky Run Fire Department to create an American flag arch across Concord Road.
“I am very delighted at today’s turnout,” Pinkowicz said. “I think this was a beautiful and fitting tribute.”
In Lower Chichester, residents gathered around the Lower Delco 9/11 Memorial, located in the Rocco Gaspari, Sr. Park, which houses an authentic piece of steel from the fallen World Trade Center.
Township President Rocco Gaspari, Jr. said this country was, and is, under attack because terrorists hate the freedoms we enjoy.
“Today is sad occasion, but we do not live in fear,” said Gaspari. “We live in freedom because a lot of brave Americans put their lives on the line. It is a disgrace that our flag is not being honored, which it should be every day. It’s one of the greatest symbols in the world.”
Police Chief Tom Gaspari read the engraved message on the memorial and explained that the two pieces of beam that hold the steel represent the World Trade Center buildings; the stone pedestal is in the shape of the Pentagon; and the flowers symbolize the tranquility of Shanksville, Pa.
“I wrote a letter applying for this piece of steel,” Chief Gaspari said. “We rode up to New York to get it and when we were transporting it home, people stopped, put their hand on their heart and saluted. The beam was covered with the American flag and it was a very moving experience.”
The chief also expressed appreciation for residents with signs in their yards supporting police.
Rev. Ethel Guy, pastor of Linwood Heights United Methodist Church, offered a special prayer and a resounding rendition of “God Bless America” was played to end the ceremony.
At the conclusion, people there were invited to approach the memorial and personally touch the piece of steel.