Tears ran and salutes were given during the well-attended South Ward Playground Association's annual 9/11 memorial service held Sunday at the Hometown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Red, white and blue decorations and displays honoring all the victims and first responders who lost their lives, as well as those who have continued to fight for freedom since that fateful day, greeted guests as they arrived.

Richard Hadesty, master of ceremonies, started the program by introducing Pastor Ed Noftz of the New Life Assembly of God Church in Tamaqua, who provided a prayer and moment of silence. Rosemarie Noftz followed by singing "America." Ten guest speakers and dignitaries provided words of rememberance and support for all the fallen heroes and victims of 9/11 and fallen service members.

Speakers were Major Sharon Whispell, Tamaqua Salvation Army; Dave Argall, State Senator (R-29); Jerry Knowles, State Representative (R-124), Joe Groody, Schuylkill County Sheriff; Peter Frye, U.S. Army; Chris Morrison, Tamaqua Mayor; Micah Gursky, Tamaqua Council President; Steve Lukach, Schuylkill Clerk of Courts; Michael McCord, Schuylkill Register of Wills; and Andrew Leibenguth, Iraq veteran.

Whispell spoke concerning God's purpose of showing comfort. Argall talked about the importance of rememberance, stating, "Today is one of those days that makes us great Americans." "Never forget those events and all the rewards of freedom," stated Groody during his speech. The firemen's prayer was provided by Nancy Willing, who lost her grandfather, Herman Lutz, in May of this year. Lutz served many roles while serving with the South Ward Fire Company for almost 60 years. During the service, all veterans were given a red rose in honor of their service. "America the Beautiful" was sung by Dollinda Linkhorst. Morrison mention his appreciation to all who served and all fallen heroes. "Blanket of Freedom" were the words Lukach described to show the freedoms we still receive because of all serving and fallen heroes."

LuKach ended with, "We will never bend." McCord stated stories of local veterans, stressing that we are one nation under God, land of the free and the home of the brave. Singers from the New Life Assembly of God Church ended the program with a number of patriotic songs. Shelly Bonser, event organizer, who found it hard to keep from crying stated her appreciation, honor and rememberance for all the guest speakers. Bonser also thanked the staff at the center who helped prepare for the event. Gursky said, "The world changed for us ten years ago," explaining what it means for all Americans to remember. He also talked about how we go forward and stressed the importance of passing on the message to every generation.