A couple hundred people gathered in front of the Ocean City Fire Department on Thursday to remember the lives lost in the deadly terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and to celebrate the community spirit that emerged in the wake of the tragedy.
“Not one of us forgets where we were on that day,” Ocean City Police Chief Chad Callahan said in his keynote address.
He said the U.S. military and first responders nationwide “continue to perform daily acts of heroism” in an effort to prevent similar tragedies.
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf,” Callahan said, quoting George Orwell and adding “women” to the quotation after “men.”
He asked for a round of applause for the police officers and firefighters standing at attention behind him.
Callahan said the conditions Americans always took for granted changed on Sept. 11, 2001, when almost 3,000 Americans died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and commercial airliners. He said we’re still trying to understand, 13 years later, what compels terrorists to perform such acts of violence on innocent people, and we’re still fighting similar groups.
In the end, Callahan asked everybody to remember how they felt on Sept. 11, 2001, and to remember the overwhelming sense of patriotism that would follow.
“And let’s not forget,” he said.
Ocean City has held an annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony since Sept. 11, 2002, when former American Legion Post 524 Commander William Cruice encouraged the city to participate in organizing one.
The event includes music. Ocean City fifth-grader Julia Wilson sang the National Anthem. Jack Meehan performed ” Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. Elizabeth Toal of the Ocean City Theatre Company closed with “God Bless America.”
Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi, Mayor Jay Gillian and the Rev. Gregory Johnson of Shiloh Baptist Church joined Callahan in giving remarks.
Deputy Fire Chief Jim Smith performed the striking of the four fives, a fire service tradition noting the death of a firefighter in the line of duty.