"Never forget, " Rod Hughes told a large crowd at AMVETS Post 45 "Evening of Remembrance" for 9/11 on Sunday night.
About 160 people, including area fire and police chiefs, first responders and city officials, assembled at AMVETS Post 45 for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Hughes, the current state AMVETS 2nd vice commander and former Post 45 commander, was the keynote speaker and presented his remarks after an invocation by Rev. Jack Austin, the posting of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the playing of the National Anthem by the Salem Pep Band.
AMVETS Post 45 Commander Dick Paulini places a 9/11 commemorative wreath at the Veterans’ Memorial during an “Evening of Remembrance” at the South Broadway Avenue post on Sunday night. He was escorted to the memorial by Lester Sheppard (behind Paulini), Sons of AMVETS commander and Tammie Sheppard, president of the AMVETS Post 45 Ladies Auxiliary. About 160 people attended the 10th anniversary remembrance ceremony. (Salem News photo by Larry Shields)
"We are here tonight to remember those who lost their lives," Hughes said, including the men and women who have died (and are currently fighting) in the war on terror.
He said 2,977 people died on 9/11, "not including the 19 cowards."
Hughes, a U.S. Navy veteran and Salem firefighter, said remember "the brave men and women who have fought valiantly" to preserve America's way of life.
"Let us pause and reflect on the ultimate cost of war, not in dollars, but in lives," Hughes said.
He thanked veterans and first responders "for giving of themselves."
AMVETS Post 45 Commander Dick Paulini laid a wreath at the Veterans' Memorial stone marker along with Lester Sheppard, commander of the Sons of AMVETS and Tammie Sheppard, president of the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary.
Paulini was also presented with a 9/11 red, white and blue, star-spangled commemorative quilt by master of ceremonies and AMVETS Post 45 Judge Advocate Butch Hardy who received it during a 9/11 ceremony in Lisbon earlier in the day.
Fourteen of the quilts were hand made by Sharen Cope for veterans.
The quilt memorializes the words of President George W. Bush who said America will "not forget ... not falter ... not fear and not fail."
Candles were lit in memory of each branch of the armed forces and in honor of first responders and the crash sites: the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the open meadow in Shanksville, Pa. where Flight 93 crashed.
Tom Scahill and Ted Albright Jr. lit the candles for the U.S. Marine Corps; Salem Police Chief Bob Floor and Fire Chief Jeff Hughes lit candles for first responders; Melody Scahill and John Wright lit candles for the U.S. Coast Guard; Larry Hively and John Nedzelski lit candles for the U.S. Navy; Chuck Smith and Clyde Brown lit candles for the U.S. Air Force; and Laurie Jones and Bill Syppko Jr. lit candles for the U.S. Army.
AMVETS 1st Vice Commander Pete Poly, 2d Vice Commander Frank Faulkner and 3rd Vice Commander Bill Galchick all lit candles for the three crash sites.
Hughes said while about14,000 people were saved out of the World Trade Center alone, tragically almost 3,000 died at the four crash sites including 341 New York City firefighters, two New York City paramedics, 37 NYC Port Authority police officers, 23 New York City police officers and eight private ambulance emergency medical technicians and paramedics at the WTC.
Austin said 9/11 is a day "etched in our memories" and pointed to the bravery in Flight 93 "that saw another plane did not reach Washington."
He said, "We will forever remember and thank them."
The Salem AMVETS Post 45 Drill Team carried the American flag and the Salem Honor Guard fired a 21-gun salute.
Larry Shields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org