Approximately 350 people from Wapakoneta and the surrounding area turned out at the Wapakoneta Fire Station Sunday for a memorial service to remember the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2011.
“I was very pleased with the turnout,” Wapakoneta Fire Chief Kendall Krites said. “For us, it wasn’t going to matter what the turnout was going to be because it was something we thought needed to be done.
“However, we were glad the community turned out in support of the event,” he said. “It was a show of patriotism.”
The program started with a moment of silence at 6:30 p.m. followed by the national anthem was sung.
A large contingent of local leaders delivered addresses to the audience, including Krites, Wapakoenta Mayor Rodney Metz, Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon, Zach Orchard of Boy Scout Troop 9, Minster Fire Chief Dale Dues and Auglaize County Commissioner John Bergman.
Ralph Reynolds of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8445 also addressed the crowd and presented the fire department with a picture to be hung in the firehouse in commemoration of the event.
Metz presented the Wapakoneta Fire Department with a proclamation from Wapakoneta City Council.
The Rev. Mark Bauer delivered the invocation, Adrian Sunday, a former chaplain of the Toledo Fire Department, said a prayer for those who died and the Rev. Steve Nelson delivered the benediction.
A host of other dedications also graced the event, including a 21-gun salute from the VFW and the playing of “Taps.”
In Krites opening remarks, he reiterated the feelings of the other speakers and most in the crowd.
“In less than two hours, four passenger planes were used in a murderous attack against our country,” Krites said. “They set out to kill Americans, to leave us in a state of terror, and to rattle our economy. However, within hours we became a stronger and more determined nation. We assemble here today in prayer and fellowship in remembrance of that event.”
During his address, Bergman reflected on the freedoms that military personnel, firefighters, police, and other emergency personnel protect every day. He highlighted one in particular, the freedom of speech.
“The fact that no one speaking up here today was told what they could or couldn’t say is a reflection of that,” Bergman said.
When the “final call” was done with the traditional 5-5-5 ringing of the bell (three sets of five each),those in attendance at the ceremony could hear a slight roll of thunder in the background.
Several songs were sang by a choir and a slide show with background music of the terrorist attacks was shown during the ceremony. The VFW Color Guard with the help of Troop 9 set the flag back to full staff at the end of the event.
Orchard dedicated a memorial that will grace the lawn of the fire department that he created for his Eagle Scout project. He put in 130 hours on the project. He said he felt it was the perfect time to dedicate the memorial.
“My dad is a retired firefighter and both of my brothers are firefighters,” Orchard said. “I don’t think firefighters get honored as much as they should. “I am very thrilled and so proud of how the memorial turned out.”
Wapakoneta resident Robert O’Neal said the service was very touching and seemed to sum up the feelings of most in attendance.
“It was a very good idea to have this,” O’Neal said. I think it keeps it in people’s memories and touches people’s hearts to put on something like this. We can never do or say enough for the people that died that day. I wish there was more we could do in their memories.”
Krites said that it was important to carry on but keep the memories of Sept. 11, 2001, fresh in the country’s memory.
“It was such a shocking a detrimental event that changed people’s lives,” Krites said. “I don’t think anyone who was alive will ever forget it. I hope that future generations remember the day and don’t forget it.”