BY LESLEY GRAHAM
The city hosted its annual Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony Friday evening at the headquarters of the Ocean City Fire Department. The message was one of unity and togetherness, drawing on the patriotism that was felt by all in the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The ceremony began with a welcome by Michael Allegretto, aide to the mayor, who thanked the crowd for attending. A presentation of colors by the Ocean City Boy Scout Troop 32 followed his remarks.
(Video courtesy Martin Fiedler of Just Right TV Productions)
Julia Mary Wilson, former Junior Miss Ocean City, sang the National Anthem, followed by remarks from Mayor Jay Gillian.
Mayor Gillian spoke to the crowd, talking about the importance of honoring and remembering all those who lost their lives 19 years ago.
“We have had to cancel a lot of events over the past couple of months due to the ongoing pandemic, but we wanted to hold this one for its importance and meaning,” Gillian said.
The mayor spoke of the divisiveness that permeates the country today and reminded everyone that in the days that followed Sept. 11, 2001, Americans were united and worked together to help neighbors, friends and strangers alike.
“Be nice, be kind. Never forget those that we lost on 9/11 and never forget the good that followed,” Gillian said.
Ocean City Fire Chief Jim Smith spoke about remembering the day while teaching the younger generations – of firefighters as well as his own children – how that day felt when he heard the news.
He discussed the necessity to explain to younger generations the gut-wrenching feeling of that day.
“It’s a day where you remember where you were and what you were doing the moment when you heard the news, much like Pearl Harbor and the assassination of JFK,” Smith solemnly told the attendees.
“It’s equally as difficult to explain the amount of patriotism that was on display by all Americans,” Smith continued. “The anguish we felt or the pride and unity that we had as a nation. As a nation I hope we strive to bring back that pride and unity.”
To those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives 19 years ago, Smith said honoring their bravery through our own action is paramount.
“We must remember their bravery and dedication and do our best to emulate that every day to our fullest for this wonderful community,” he said.
The ceremony also contained the striking of the four fives, a series of bell tolls. When a firefighter died in the line of duty, headquarters would transmit five bell strikes, repeated in four series, with a slight pause between each series, followed by the announcement.
This tradition dates back to 1865 when the New York City Fire Department informed its members of the death of President Abraham Lincoln. It is a tradition that continues to this day.
A wreath was laid by members of the Ocean City Police and Fire Departments and the flag was returned to full staff by members of the American Legion Post 524.
Sofia Farrell closed the ceremony with a beautiful rendition of God Bless America.