Marblehead marked the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Sunday with a mid-morning ceremony on Memorial Park.
The 10-minute ceremony, one of perhaps thousands across the nation, provided locals with a communal outlet to renew their commitment to never forget those who perished in New York City, Washington D.C. and over Shanksville, Penna. on Sept. 11, 2001.
“We gather once again to pay tribute to the victims, the 2,977 people who lost their lives,” said Marblehead Fire Chief Jason Gilliland behind a wooden podium set up before a modest crowd. “It is as equally important to recognize the more than 2,000 first responders who have succumbed to illness as a result of working in the hazardous conditions during the recovery operation at Ground Zero over the 21 years since 9/11.”
The day’s horrific events claimed three Marblehead residents, Erik Isbrandtsen, who was at work on the 104th floor in one of the World Trade Center towers, and Dr. Frederick Rimmele and William Weems, both of whom were onboard United Airlines Flight 175 when the plane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
In 2006, the town dedicated a Memorial Park monument that not only honors their lives but also the three service members Army Staff Sgt. Christopher N. Piper, Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Christopher Shay and Rachel R. McKay killed in the War on Terror.
The morning crowd bowed their heads after the Rev. Timothy Moran, the Marblehead Fire Department’s chaplain, asked everyone to join him in prayer.
“Numbers cannot qualify, quantify the love in which we hold those who lost their lives….no number can define the generous courage of those who respond to the call of duty,” he said. “And no number can limit our resolve to build a world that builds a society where violence and hate [do not exist].”
Marblehead Police Chief Dennis King, who was a rookie police officer in Salem when the attack played out, encouraged folks to never succumb to fear.
“This is not only a day of remembrance, it’s a day and commitment to carrying on with life in America without being paralyzed by fear. I’ve always lived by this,” he said. “And so should we all. You can both honor and remember this day in history in the lives lost and ceremonies like the one here – and also by not giving into those who commit these acts of terrorism.”
A bell was rung 20 times in sets of five, paying tribute to losses suffered at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Penna. A sustained silence fell on Memorial Park as Jack Collins played “Taps.”
Rabbi David Meyer of Marblehead’s Temple Emanu-El, offered a blessing before Select Board Chairman Moses Grader laid a red, white and blue memorial wreath (created by the Sustainable Horticulture students at the Essex Agricultural and Technical School) in front of the Sept. 11 monument.
“This date in our nation’s calendar will remain indelibly inscribed in our hearts and memories,” Meyer said. “May our grief be turned into determination, resolved to pursue the path of what is good and right and just. Help us to remember what it means to be Americans, a people endowed with abundant blessings.”
When the ceremony culminated, Jay Sahagian and his two kids, Carter, 15, and Catherine, 12, stood at the 9/11 memorial.
“It’s great that we still continue to remember what happened,” Sahagian said of Marblehead observing 9/11 anniversaries. “We will never forget.”