Text and Photos
By David Slone
WARSAW — At the end of Monday’s ceremony in Warsaw remembering 9/11, a bell was rang to mark the 22nd anniversary of those who died from the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and for those who served and continue to serve the country.
Like that ringing bell, the theme for the annual ceremony echoed throughout the speeches and comments made for every one to remember – “We Shall Never Forget. We Shall Never Forget. We Shall Never Forget.”
Since 2002, the Kosciusko 9/11 Committee has held some type of observance. This year, the ceremony was held at American Legion Post 49 in Warsaw due to the ongoing construction at the Zimmer Biomet Center Lake Pavilion where the 9/11 memorial is located.
In his thoughts on 9/11 Monday, Mike Cox, committee member, said, “Sept. 11, 2001, to paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt, a day which will live in infamy. This is the 22nd ceremony in remembrance of the murder of nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. Four commercial airplanes. Three buildings hit. Others damaged. And another building spared only through the heroic efforts — though they were fatal — of passengers on Flight 93.”
Cox declined to say the name of the criminal who orchestrated the terrorist attacks, but said, “While his goal was to strike terror in the hearts of Americans, who he believed were weak and spineless, he could not have anticipated the ongoing deaths created by 9/11.”
Those deaths, he said, included over 100 first responders who were involved in the search and rescue at Ground Zero and the Pentagon who died of COVID-19, made lethal by health issues from exposure to toxic fumes at 9/11. More than 4,600 people — those who were in the buildings and first responders — have died from illnesses and injuries suffered on 9/11, Cox said.
Over 125,000 people have registered with the World Trade Center health program that was set up in 2001 to help people with their medical bills. “That’s an ongoing thing and it’s growing quite rapidly in the past year or so,” Cox said.
More than 400,000 people are estimated to have been exposed to the toxic atmosphere in lower Manhattan from 9/11, he said. Those people have higher chances than the national average of developing cancer.
He said we should never forget that day not only for those who suffered the immediate effects but also for those who are still dealing with the effects of 9/11, whether that’s cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder or other.
“We must remain strong as a nation. Resilient as citizens and rely on God to help us. We must never forget,” Cox stated.
Ken Locke, committee member and veteran, told the crowd of several dozen people to remember where they were on Sept. 11, 2001, as he looked over at members of Boy Scout Troop 715 who weren’t even born yet.
“But remember where you were. How many times have I heard today, ‘I remember where I was at.’ Let us never forget,” Locke said. “It was a horrible day, and you young people, I hope you never see a day like that in your lifetime. But it was a horrible day.”
He said he could remember the feelings and emotions that he had.
“It was strange to say the least, but remember where you were. Realize, for us who were living, realize that there are people 22 and younger — basically everyone in high school, everyone in college now — who were not living when this happened. So we need to remind them what a day that was,” Locke said.
It would be no different than when some people’s parents told them about the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
“But no day in history has changed our lives like Sept. 11. It still affects us to this day, so may we never forget,” Locke said. “But we also need to know where we are at right now. The sad thing is, I remember those days after when we were very united. We were praying together. We were singing together. We were hugging one another. It didn’t matter whether you were a Republican or a Democrat, a Christian or a non-Christian. It didn’t matter. We were all Americans and we came together.”
He said he was tired of the division and asked if at some point America could get back to that togetherness.
“You would have hoped that we would have learned something from September 11, but, obviously, we didn’t. We need to learn to come together again,” Locke stated.
He also told everyone to remember that freedom comes with a great price.
“Every day when you’re out, just notice that there’s somebody in a police car or a law enforcement vehicle. There’s somebody in a fire truck. There’s somebody in an ambulance that may go by. You might complain a little bit that you have to pull over for just a moment, but just remember that those people are putting their lives on the line for you and for me. Just never forget,” Locke said.
He talked about the price the men and women in the military have paid and pay.
“It’s estimated that four to five veterans every day commit suicide. We must never forget,” Locke said.
He stated that we must stay vigilant because freedom isn’t free and liberty is not a given. Each generation has to step up and maintain it.
After he read a 9/11 ceremony prayer, Johnny Butler, a committee member and the commander of the Squadron 49 Sons of the American Legion at Post 49, talked about the history and creation of the Honor & Remember and the Honor & Sacrifice flags and what the colors and symbols on both of the flags mean.
On Memorial Day 2008, the Honor & Remember flag was first flown as a perpetual symbol of remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price in the military for freedom. Indiana was the 26th state to adopt the flag.
The Honor & Sacrifice flag was first presented in 2016 to honor firefighters, law enforcement and other first responders.
“These flags are personalized for a loved one’s family. In this county, the Indiana Patriot Guard and Honor & Remember have dedicated multiple flags to many Gold Star families. Approximately one month ago, we presented two flags to the families of two Vietnam casualties killed in action on the battlefield. Across the U.S., over 4,000 Honor & Remember flags have been given to Gold Star families,” Butler said. “The Honor & Sacrifice flag has been given to approximately 100 families, five here in Kosciusko County.”
He continued, “As we’ve been saying, to never forget. To recognize those who give the ultimate sacrifice. If nothing else, go away from here tonight, thinking about what you can do as a citizen, as a patriot. Of course, to never forget.”
Butler’s comments were followed by a moment of silence and the ringing of the bell by Cox.
The ceremony was opened with welcome remarks by Cox, the national anthem sung by Bryce Lippe, Boy Scout Troop 715 leading the Pledge of Allegiance and Warsaw Police Department Capt. Brad Kellar singing “God Bless The USA.”
The 9/11 Memorial Remembrance Committee members are Cox, Locke, Cathy Reed, Cindy Justice and Johnny Butler.