The town of Onley held a memorial service Saturday on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
The service, held at noon in the George McMath Town Park, was led by local faith leaders from several denominations, including Father Mike Imperial, Pastor John Burr, Pastor Wayne Belle, and Jolynn Hart.
“We gather today, united in remembering the impact that this day had in our history,” said Kelly Gaskill, master of ceremonies for the program.
“One of the things that happened as a result of 9/11 — we all became united. We were all equal. We were all brothers and sisters,” Gaskill said.
Many attendees gripped American flags during the service, which included prayers, patriotic music, including the singing of “God Bless America” by Eileen Lee, and speeches urging Americans never to forget the events of that day. Angel DeGuzman sang the National Anthem to start the program.
Mayor Matt Hart led the crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag.
“It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since this tragic event,” Hart said. He thanked Vice Mayor Rose Pierson for organizing the service, and thanked the community’s first responders and military members and veterans for their service.
Hart spoke about the first responders who responded to the crash sites on 9/11, including at the World Trade Center in New York City, calling them “saints sent by God to carry out what I believe is one of the most courageous acts in American history. They responded without hesitation and climbed the stairs of the World Trade towers in hopes of rescuing those in need. Many of these first responders would not make it back to their loved ones and they paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Hart called the passengers who forced another hijacked aircraft down in a field near Shanksville, Pa., heroes, saying they “saved so many lives on this day and their bravery should never be forgotten.”
He called for a moment of silence to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.
Lou Hinds, speaking during an open podium segment for anyone who wished to comment on the events of 9/11, talked about a colleague who was on United Airlines Flight 93, the aircraft that went down in a Pennsylvania field after passengers foiled hijackers’ plan to crash it into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“They knew what was happening. They made a choice,” said Hinds, a retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge manager.
“Those were true American heroes on that flight,” he said.
The solemn service concluded with the lowering of a large American flag from the ladder of an Onancock Volunteer Fire Department truck, accompanied by the playing of “Taps.”
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