About one in five Americans alive today have no memory of the 9/11 attacks, too little or not yet born to witness the chaos unfold in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
For the veterans who gathered Sunday at American Legion Post 118 in Amherst, those memories and the pain they bring is still fresh.
In a tribute to both the living and the nearly 3,000 who died in the attacks, John Markovitch of the Sons of the American Legion said he remembers how ordinary human beings met extraordinary circumstances.
“They taught us through their actions that day what it means to be human,” he said, speaking of the self-sacrifice of those who rushed toward smoke-filled buildings to rescue those trapped in the rubble.
Four hundred eleven emergency workers were among the casualties but saved thousands of lives, said Amherst mayor Mark Costilow.
Observance of 9/11 each year is a reminder of the value of the city’s firefighters, police officers, and ambulance workers. “I sleep well and I bet you do too knowing that those who are here to protect us are on duty,” he said.
Lorain County is blessed with a relative tranquility, said Dave Orosz, 2015 Legionnaire of the Year. Still, many Amherst veterans know someone directly affected on Sept. 11, 2001, or serving in the military as a result.
Orosz compared 9/11 to the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, saying both served as a “wake-up call to all Americans.”
Yet despite tears shed and the haunted eyes of those gathered at the Legion post, Orosz said America remains strong. It’s made so by her people, he said.
There ceremony included the striking of a bell in memory of lost firefighters, the laying of a wreath in memory of all victims, a rifle volley by the Amherst Veterans Military Honor Guard, and bell tolls for each of the 11 wars in which Americans have served.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Veterans salute Sunday during a moment of silence on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. They gathered outside American Legion Post 118 on North Lake Street.