By Karen Carr Keefe
Senior Contributing Writer
The 9/11 ceremony was sober, heartfelt and patriotic Monday night at the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post 9249 on Grand Island Boulevard.
Two chaplains from the local veterans organizations shared the duties of opening and closing prayers. They were American Legion Chaplain Joe Mesmer and VFW Chaplain Joel Smith.
In his invocation, the Rev. Mesmer said, “Loving God of peace, on this anniversary of unbelievable sorrow, comfort those who mourn, and guide our hearts toward healing and hope.”
A sizable crowd recited the pledge of allegiance and listened respectfully to brief speeches from VFW Post Cmdr. Dale Berger and keynote speaker, Grand Island Deputy Supervisor Pete Marston.
“It is my hope that, in marking this anniversary, we continue to honor those who were lost and the sacrifices that were made,” Marston said. “Over two decades ago, on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the unimaginable occurred. Terrorists attacked the United States of America in a series of despicable and hateful acts of war, and highjacked four passenger jets – crashed two into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, a third into the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside.
“Thousands were killed, thousands more injured, and still thousands more responded to help the victims.”
Marston explained, “That morning changed life as we knew it. That morning also brought us together.”
He said that, on the anniversary, the community came together in remembrance of that day.
“We remember the beginning of a hard healing process. We remember so that we never forget the losses and we never forget that we, as a nation, came together as one,” Marston said.
An honor guard and a rifle brigade were in attendance. The brigade fired three loud, jolting shots as a salute in memory of those who lost their lives that day. Immediate Past Cmdr. Alan Lee played a haunting and beautiful rendition of taps.
Among attendees were members of the VFW Post, the Grand Island Fire Co., and town residents who sought comfort in words of remembrance for a tragic day in U.S. history.
The Rev. Smith said, in his benediction, “Heavenly father, as we prepare to part our ways after this ceremony of remembrance and honor, let us never forget those who lost their lives 22 years ago today. We ask you to continue to provide healing for the family and friends of those who were lost on that day. Lord, we ask you to continue to provide us with your guidance as we strive for a peaceful future.”