Tri-Citians remember 9/11

Honor Guard stood watch at Kennewick memorial from sunrise to sunset

September 11, 2013 

Several hundred Tri-Citians turned out through the day and evening Wednesday to honor the almost 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

More than 50 watched in silence in the morning as three members of the Fraternal Order of Police Honor Guard solemnly changed the guard of the 9/11 memorial in Kennewick.

A fire bell's tinny tones echoed to remember the four attacks, in which 19 terrorists crashed hijacked airliners at 8:46 a.m., 9:03 a.m., 9:37 a.m. and 10:07 a.m.

-- At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, with 81 passengers and 11 crew members aboard.

-- At 9:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, with 56 passengers and nine crew members aboard.

-- At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, killing 58 passengers, six crew members and 125 personnel on the ground.

-- Later, at 10:07 a.m., United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa., killing 37 passengers and seven crew members. It is believed the target was either the U.S. Capitol or the White House, and that resistance by the passengers prevented the attack.

The memorial in Kennewick, visible from Highway 395 near the Southridge Sports and Events Complex, is made of twisted beams from the World Trade Center.

From sunrise to sunset Wednesday, the Fraternal Order of Police -- which includes Tri-City area law enforcement officers -- stood guard over the memorial. Area firefighters also participated, ringing the bell and silently standing during the change of guard ceremonies.

Dori Schmelzer, 35, of Kennewick, brought her 5-year-old son Holden and 6-month-old daughter Mayci to an evening ceremony with several hundred spectators.

"So many lives were lost on 9/11," Schmelzer said. "I wanted my son to be here today and learn the importance of why we honor this day. He might not understand the significance yet, but he will as long as we continue to hold events like this."

Every Tri-City area police and fire department, along with the Coast Guard and a Medevac emergency unit, had representatives on site so the public could get a close-up view of fire trucks, police cars and SWAT vehicles.

Capt. John A. Butterfield, a retired Navy pilot, told the crowd a story about landing in Washington, D.C., on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

"We had no idea what had happened when we landed in D.C.," Butterfield said. "But when my daughter pulled up to pick me up at the airport, she got out of the car and said 'Dad, it's awful, they're crashing airplanes into buildings.' "

He reminded the crowd that Americans are resilient and survived the shock waves of watching the horror unfold when the towers fell. "The spirit of Americans always rises from the ashes, and may this never happen again," he said.

Jason Harrington, Honor Guard commander for the Fraternal Order of Police, said the anniversary is a time to remember how well the country pulled together after the attacks.

Many Americans continue to feel the effects though military service, whether personal or that of a loved one, Harrington said.

"I hope they are inspired and proud to be Americans," said Harrington said. "Because I am."

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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