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9/11 Memorial Ceremony held in Slatington

  • Bagpiper Kerry McNeil played "Amazing Grace" during the Memorial Ceremony. Bob Kuntz and Fire Chief Keith Weaver had laid the wreaths.
    Bagpiper Kerry McNeil played "Amazing Grace" during the Memorial Ceremony. Bob Kuntz and Fire Chief Keith Weaver had laid the wreaths.
Published September 14. 2010 05:00PM

A Sept. 11 rededication of the firemen's statue in Slatington was followed by a Memorial Ceremony in remembrance of 9/11.

Gary Phillips, a former Slatington fire chief, focused on volunteerism to honor those volunteers who died in New York. He defined "volunteer" as "one who serves of their own free will without compensation."

He said people who did not live in Slatington helped with the firemen's statue restoration when it was hit by a car. Help came from all over the United States.

"Today it is a three-dimensional representation of volunteers," Phillips said.

He urged those attending to think of all the organizations that depend on volunteers such as the food bank.

On behalf of the local firefighters, we thank them, he said. They all come together and assist the community.

"When there came a need to save the bell all firemen came together. We are proud of our heritage," Phillips said.

It was when the three fire companies were centralized that the new Hose Co. No. 1 asked for the 400-pound bell which is now located in front of the Mountain View Hi-Rise where it honors all firemen.

A 75-ton crane lost control coming down Main Street in 1986 and the dedication was delayed as it ran into the hi-rise.

Now both the bell and the statue are cleaned twice yearly. As part of the 9/11 Memorial Celebration Randy Horn rang the bell nine times for the nine years since 9/11.

The Rev. John Wagner read the Fireman's Prayer, written by a man who saw three children die in a fire behind security bars. Writing it helped to ease his sorrow.

Wreaths were laid at both the statue and bell by the firemen of the Slatington Fire Department.

Bagpiper Kerry McNeil played "Amazing Grace," moving to the front of the statue where Keith Weaver, fire chief; and Bob Kuntz, those who laid the wreaths, waited.

A moment of silence was requested for "all fallen firemen" by the Rev. David Johnson.

The firing squad from Slatington American Legion Post 16 gave a 21-gun salute.

"Taps" was played by Ted Steinbrecher, band director, followed by the Northern Lehigh Community Band playing "Hail to the Fallen Heroes" with the help of McNeil and his bagpipes.

Milton Greene and Bill Fister unveiled the statue on its 100th anniversary.

Bob Stettner of Future Focus said he grew up across from the Vigilant Fire Company and knows what is involved for volunteers of a fire company

"We remember firemen who gave their lives on 9/11 but it is the coming together of people that is important," said Stettner. He found some good in the 1979 destruction of the firemen's statue because it brought 1,500 people together for that 1980 dedication. It united the town's pride.

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