Feelings of anger, grief still fresh at Amherst Legion 9/11 ceremony


14 years after 9/11, nation still coping with feelings of loss

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com



<p style="text-align: right;">Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Amherst fire chief Wayne Northeim and police chief Joseph Kucirek pay silent respects as a bell tolls in honor of safety forces who suffered losses in the aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Amherst fire chief Wayne Northeim and police chief Joseph Kucirek pay silent respects as a bell tolls in honor of safety forces who suffered losses in the aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks.


“There are many dates that define us as a nation. Perhaps for you it’s Dec. 7, 1941, or maybe it’s Nov. 22, 1963. For me and millions of others of my generation, it’s Sept. 11, 2001,” says Amherst safety-service director Mark Costilow.


The mournful sound of “Taps” floats of North Lake Street as John Milarek plays.


Mike Plog, pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Amherst, prays for protection police and firefighters.


John Sekletar, Brian Seifort, and Don Collins stand ready to give a rifle salute.


Mike Schrull, treasurer of the American Legion Riders at Post 118, speaks on how the Legion was “the first to step forward and say, ‘We need to do something for the children of the fallen’” after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund was established the following month. At this year’s national convention in Baltimore, it was announced that a record $1.2 million was collected for the scholarship fund, which now totals more than $6 million. Much of that is due to the Legacy Run in which motorcycles trek from Indianapolis to the convention to raise cash.


Frank Martinez and other Legion Riders watch Friday’s ceremony on North Lake Street.


Jim Uldrich is pictured firing a blank round in a rifle salute.


Matt Stemkowski stands at attention as part of the honor guard.


Amherst police lieutenants Mark Cawthon and Dan Makruski listen during the singing of the National Anthem.


Barb Smith sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” to veterans, police, firefighters, and community members gathered Friday.


Veteran Bill Hoff, commander of American Legion Post 118, serves as master of ceremonies Friday. “Thank you for taking the time to remember Sept. 11, 2001, and the price the United States of America paid for our continuing freedom,” he told a crowd that gathered to pay respects.


There were still tears to shed Friday on the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Those gathered at American Legion Post 118 in Amherst stood stiffly, listening to a tolling bell in honor of the 2,977 innocent lives lost in the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

“Our hearts and prayers go to families who lost loved ones,” said the Rev. Mike Plog of Faith Baptist Church, praying for protection for soldiers, police officers, and firefighters.

City safety-service director Mark Costilow’s voice shook as he recalled learning hijackers had flown a plane into the World Trade Center.

“Every channel had the same devastating live shot of the first tower smoking. Little did I know there was more terror to follow. Then the second plane hit the other tower,” he said. “I stood in front of the TV stunned in disbelief, having feelings of grief, loneliness, then anger. How could this be happening? How could anyone do this to us?”

Legion post commander Bill Hoff was also emotional recounting how a friend’s son died on Flight 93, which crashed in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania, as passengers tried to wrest control from terrorists.

“It doesn’t seem like 14 years since 9/11 happened. But it did and it was senseless,” he said, hung head low.

Sergeant-at-arms Don Griffith laid a memorial wreath Friday at the North Lake Street veterans hall. Chaplain Bill Drexler struck a bronze bell 11 times — once for every military conflict in which the United States has been embroiled since the Revolutionary War.

“Your presence sends a message to all that we remember 9/11 just as we remember Pearl Harbor, the only other attack on American soil,” Hoff told a crowd of roughly 50 that gathered to mark the anniversary.

Amherst veterans also plan gather Dec. 7 to mark Pearl Harbor Day.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Amherst fire chief Wayne Northeim and police chief Joseph Kucirek pay silent respects as a bell tolls in honor of safety forces who suffered losses in the aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8169.jpg

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Amherst fire chief Wayne Northeim and police chief Joseph Kucirek pay silent respects as a bell tolls in honor of safety forces who suffered losses in the aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks.

“There are many dates that define us as a nation. Perhaps for you it’s Dec. 7, 1941, or maybe it’s Nov. 22, 1963. For me and millions of others of my generation, it’s Sept. 11, 2001,” says Amherst safety-service director Mark Costilow.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8227.jpg“There are many dates that define us as a nation. Perhaps for you it’s Dec. 7, 1941, or maybe it’s Nov. 22, 1963. For me and millions of others of my generation, it’s Sept. 11, 2001,” says Amherst safety-service director Mark Costilow.

The mournful sound of “Taps” floats of North Lake Street as John Milarek plays.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8265.jpgThe mournful sound of “Taps” floats of North Lake Street as John Milarek plays.

Mike Plog, pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Amherst, prays for protection police and firefighters.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8192.jpgMike Plog, pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Amherst, prays for protection police and firefighters.

John Sekletar, Brian Seifort, and Don Collins stand ready to give a rifle salute.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8220.jpgJohn Sekletar, Brian Seifort, and Don Collins stand ready to give a rifle salute.

Mike Schrull, treasurer of the American Legion Riders at Post 118, speaks on how the Legion was “the first to step forward and say, ‘We need to do something for the children of the fallen’” after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund was established the following month. At this year’s national convention in Baltimore, it was announced that a record $1.2 million was collected for the scholarship fund, which now totals more than $6 million. Much of that is due to the Legacy Run in which motorcycles trek from Indianapolis to the convention to raise cash.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8205.jpgMike Schrull, treasurer of the American Legion Riders at Post 118, speaks on how the Legion was “the first to step forward and say, ‘We need to do something for the children of the fallen’” after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund was established the following month. At this year’s national convention in Baltimore, it was announced that a record $1.2 million was collected for the scholarship fund, which now totals more than $6 million. Much of that is due to the Legacy Run in which motorcycles trek from Indianapolis to the convention to raise cash.

Frank Martinez and other Legion Riders watch Friday’s ceremony on North Lake Street.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8240.jpgFrank Martinez and other Legion Riders watch Friday’s ceremony on North Lake Street.

Jim Uldrich is pictured firing a blank round in a rifle salute.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8252.jpgJim Uldrich is pictured firing a blank round in a rifle salute.

Matt Stemkowski stands at attention as part of the honor guard.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8270.jpgMatt Stemkowski stands at attention as part of the honor guard.

Amherst police lieutenants Mark Cawthon and Dan Makruski listen during the singing of the National Anthem.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8222.jpgAmherst police lieutenants Mark Cawthon and Dan Makruski listen during the singing of the National Anthem.

Barb Smith sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” to veterans, police, firefighters, and community members gathered Friday.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8154.jpgBarb Smith sings “The Star-Spangled Banner” to veterans, police, firefighters, and community members gathered Friday.

Veteran Bill Hoff, commander of American Legion Post 118, serves as master of ceremonies Friday. “Thank you for taking the time to remember Sept. 11, 2001, and the price the United States of America paid for our continuing freedom,” he told a crowd that gathered to pay respects.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2015/09/web1_IMG_8151.jpgVeteran Bill Hoff, commander of American Legion Post 118, serves as master of ceremonies Friday. “Thank you for taking the time to remember Sept. 11, 2001, and the price the United States of America paid for our continuing freedom,” he told a crowd that gathered to pay respects.
14 years after 9/11, nation still coping with feelings of loss

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@civitasmedia.com