Although it has been 22 years since the terrorist attacks on American soil of Sept. 11, 2001, public memorial vigils continued in towns and cities nationwide, including in Honesdale on Monday morning.
As time marches forward, one would have to be in their mid-to-late 20s to have at least an early memory of the drama of that day still etched on the hearts and minds of many. At the Wayne County ceremony held around the 9/11 memorial in front of the Dimmick Building was 9-year-old Maddie Franckowiak of Waymart. Dressed in red, white and blue, she sang loud and clear "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Proud to Be an American."
Maddie, the daughter of Matthew and Michelle Franckowiak, is very patriotic, prays for the troops, and loves to sing the national anthem, her mother said. Maddie sang it this summer at a RailRiders baseball game in Moosic, and at the Fall Music Festival this month and a year ago in White Mills.
Like other children, Maddie has no memory of the attacks on 9/11, occurring before she was born. “It’s hard to make her understand about 9/11,” her mother said, when asked how Maddie and other children can grasp the significance that is held by so many adults.
Franckowiak's 11-year-old daughter Makayla said they are not told much, only the basics, and stated she had never seen the video of the Twin Towers falling, her mother related. They do learn, however, that the annual 9/11 observance is a very sad day, and one on which we honor and pray for the victims, she said.
Brian Smith, chair of the Wayne County commissioners, stressed in his remarks the importance of teaching the young generation the lessons learned from 9/11.
"Up until a few years ago, we had a silent vigil where people just silently walked up to the monument and said a prayer, thought about the people that meant something to you, thought about how this changed our world, thought about how this took away some of our freedom," Smith said.
"I decided to break that silence a few years ago," Smith continued. "Because I don't think we should any longer be silent about this. I think we need to talk about it. I think we need to teach our kids in school about it."
Through American history we have fought for our freedom with blood, Smith reminded. "We have always had patriots who believe in the very premise of a free nation, and of one nation under God, where people can enjoy freedom."
Like we had been called upon to "remember the Alamo" and "remember Pearl Harbor," he pleaded that we "remember 9/11" when we were so viciously attacked.
Then he turned his attention inward, to a challenge within. "I hear people very aggravated with their own country here in the United States. I hear Democrats talk poorly about Republicans, and I hear Republicans talk poorly about Democrats." At the Battle of Gettysburg, in 1863, 50,000 Americans died fighting each other.
"We have to remain united in this country. We are all brothers and sisters. And when we fight for our freedom... we have Democrats and Republicans in the foxholes, men and women fighting for the same cause. We can have differences here, and we can remember we are brothers and sisters fighting for the same cause," Smith stated.
He added that not only does his heart go out for those who died on 9/11, but also for those who suffer from lung illnesses from all the fallout when the World Trade Center towers collapsed.
Victoria Wargo from Wayne County Veteran Affairs led the ceremony.
The nation had not been attacked on its own soil since 1941 at Pearl Harbor, 60 years before. "We woke up on that fateful September 11th morning, never expecting that our entire world was about to change, " Wargo said. "...Then suddenly and violently our entire world changed, and our nation will never be the same."
American Legion Post 254 posted the colors. Wargo read the timeline account of when the four hijacked airliners hit — two that brought down the World Trade Center in New York City, one that hit the Pentagon and the fourth that crashed in a field at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
As she did, for each plane, the historic courthouse bell displayed on the lawn was sounded. It rang out four more times after Wargo said, "In the end, more than 2,977 innocent people lost their lives on that fateful day. Firefighters, policemen, military personnel, civilians, and children perished. Our lives, and our world will never be the same."
Doug Wiley played taps. The crowd was invited at the end to file up to the granite and steel memorial, and pay their private respects.
This article originally appeared on Tri-County Independent: Wayne County honors victims of 9/11 on 22nd anniversary of attacks