LIFE Interfaith Fellowship holds Service of Remembrance
Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Among those taking part in the Service of Remembrance at the Lehighton Amphitheatre were from left, State Rep. Doyle Heffley; Barry Shupp of Zion United Church of Christ and the Rev. Anthony Pagotto of Dinkey Church.
A Service of Remembrance was held Tuesday night in the Lehighton Amphitheatre. The service was sponsored by LIFE, Lehighton Interfaith Fellowship.
Several members of the fellowship offered prayers and readings. The program concluded with a candle light ceremony. The program included songs sung by the Ecumenical Choir, with music on the keyboard provided by Robert Fatzinger. The keynote speaker was State Rep. Doyle Heffley.
Shirley Stamm of First Presbyterian Church offered the welcome and the Rev. Jane Bender of All Saint's Episcopal Church gave the invocation and benediction.
Readings were offered by Stamm, Rose Marie Austin of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church; Barry Shupp of Zion United Church of Christ; and Shirley Radler, Trinity Lutheran Church.
Heffley said that 11 years ago the day unfolded much like it had today, with beautiful weather and clear skies. He said that no one could have predicted the horror that was about to unfold.
"Our generation will remember Sept. 11 with vivid clarity," said Heffley. "Like the attacks on Pearl Harbor, it has become one of the defining time-marks for all Americans."
Heffley said everyone will remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
"For many, the initial response was disbelief," he said. "When the second plane hit Tower Two, that is when the horror set in. As news flooded in that a third plane had slammed into the Pentagon and a fourth crashed into a Pennsylvania field, that was when it became a reality for all that America was under attack."
Heffley said that the horrific images and traumatic events that unfolded on Sept. 11 have left everlasting images engraved in the minds of all Americans.
Heffley heard the news on his truck radio. Back in 2001, he was a truck driver and made daily early morning routine trips into New York City. He remembers leaving the city on Sept. 11, 2001 and glancing back at the Manhattan skyline as he always did. Little did he know that it would be the last time he'd see the World Trade Center towers standing tall.
"As I went back into the city the following day, I remember the eerie feeling," said Heffley. "The Manhattan Skyline was empty, the air reeked of burnt metallic and smoke. The only reminder of the Twin Towers was the long trail of smoke rising from the ashes and glow of the search lights."
In those 24 hours, Heffley said that the lives of Americans had been forever changed.
"Killed in the attacks in New York, 2753; firefighters and paramedics, 343; New York Police Department, 23; Port Authority Police officers, 37; people killed when plane crashed in the Pentagon, Washington D.C., 181; and Americans killed when United Flight 93 crashed, 45," said Heffley.
Heffley said black smoke billowed up from New York City and the Pentagon, while airplane wreckage smoldered on a Pennsylvania field.
"These men and women were taken from us with heartbreaking swiftness and cruelty," he added.
Heffley said that American can never get back the lives that were lost on that day or the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in the wars that followed.
"On 9-11, our nation saw the face of evil," he added. "Yet on that awful day, we also witnessed something distinctly American: ordinary citizens rising to the occasion, and responding with extraordinary acts of courage. The attacks were meant to bring us to our knees, and they did - but not in the way the terrorists intended. America united in prayer."
Heffley said that Americans came to the aid of neighbors in need and resolved that our enemies would not have the last word.
"As we reflect back on the heroic actions of the firefighters, police officers and EMS workers, may we always remember their commitment to keeping us safe," said Heffley.
Boy Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 82 assisted participants with the candle lighting.