Commemorating the 20th anniversary of September 11th, residents of Amblebrook Gettysburg in Straban honored first responders Saturday.
First responders and their families were invited to the recently developed housing community’s first 9/11 memorial for a potluck and a day of reflection.
Since many neighbors of the 55 and older living community are former military and first responders with many hailing from New York, the residents wanted to commemorate 9/11’s twentieth anniversary with a dedication to local first responders, according to Dave Scott, Amblebrook resident and committee coordinator.
The residents looked to honor those lost in the air and on the ground as well as the first responders who suffered both long – and short-term damages to their lives because of 9/11, Scott said.
The commitment of local first responders is a constant reminder of the sacrifices that were made twenty years ago, he said.
“We as a community owe them a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they make every day protecting our community,” Scott said.
Amblebrook residents organized the development’s memorial to provide a day of remembrance, as well as, to connect the Amblebrook development with the rest of the community, he said.
“We want to be part of the community, not just an island,” Scott said.
Together Amblebrook residents and first responders shared tales of comradery for a day of healing.
Gettysburg Fire Department Chaplain Jason Laughman provided prayer to honor the fellowship gathered to commemorate the first responders, both in the past and those more recently who have fallen in the line of duty.
Former Gettysburg Fire Department Chief Hershel Shank recounted spending ten days as a Medical Specialist with Pennsylvania Task Force 1 at Ground Zero providing aid.
“Ten days that changed my life,” he said.
Days of tragedy such as the Great Depression or Pearl Harbor have the capacity to prove resilience, and 9/11 united the country unlike anything seen in his lifetime, according to Shank.
“It currently feels like yesterday,” he said.
The aftermath of 9/11 ushered in an era of American pride and unity not seen in decades, Gettysburg Fire Department Captain Ken Kine said, and although the circumstances that brought it were tragic, it united the country as one and opened eyes to what truly matters in life.
9/11 proved to strengthen American resolve as a day that showed that no matter who you were, you were an American, he said.
“We were able to come together and move forward as a country,” Kine said.
Kine looks forward to the days of such comradery again without such tragedy.
Gettysburg Fire Department was established in 1808 and is a volunteer organization, Kine said.
“We’ve been doing this for 200 years and we’re going to keep doing it,” he said.
A candlelight vigil illuminated the development’s cul-de-sac, and a bell was rung as names of each of the 40 passengers from Flight 93 were somberly read.
The reading was fitting since Shanksville is in Pennsylvania, Lorraine Ebbin, Amblebrook resident and committee coordinator.
As a full-sized American flag gently wafted atop a firetruck on the warm September evening, a united community promised that Sept. 11, 2001 was remembered today as strongly as it happened twenty years ago.
Gettysburg Fire Department fire truck flies an American flag as Amblebrook commemorated 9/11 and first responders Saturday.