A new generation grieves in Chester

9/11 ceremony keeps alive memories of dear ones lost 16 years ago

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  • Girl Scouts place flowers at the 9/11 Memorial (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • A new generation comes to remember (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • The Chester Academy Band (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Dad Chad Clarke was at the service along with sons James, 5, and Justin, 7 (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Town of Chester Police Chief Dan Doellinger and his son, Charlie, 2, were present at the service (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Pastor Erin Moore, mother Deborah Lee, and Father John Bonnici (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Girl Scouts look on (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • Ed Stoddard, past president of the Chester Fire Department, contemplates the memorial (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

  • A gesture of comfort (Photo by Ginny Privitar)

"Drive away any hate-filled sentiments or urges of vengeance that goad us to return evil for evil. Rather, let this day of remembrance encourage us to actions of kindness, words of love, and demonstrations of community."
The Rev. Erin Moore

By Ginny Privitar

— The largest crowd to date turned out in Chester to remember those lost to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The memory is still sharp for those who lived through that terrible day. Now another generation is commemorating the loss along with them, in a solemn ceremony held on the anniversary at Chester's 9/11 memorial. Many young people, even babes in arms, were among those who attended the service at the memorial built by the Chester Kiwanis.

Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts were out in force. Groups of Girl Scouts laid flowers at the foot of the smemorial to honor fallen police, firefighters, and first responders, and survivors.

“I think this is a beautiful ceremony,” said Justine Diaz, who was there with her daughter Ava, 9. “My cousin passed away in the towers. He was a police officer. This is right in our backyard and we enjoy coming every year.”

The Chester Academy Ensemble sang the National Anthem, and the Chester Academy Brass Band played “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”

'Drive away hate'Ed Stoddard, past president of the Chester Fire Department, introduced three local pastors who offered prayers and words of solace: Father John Bonnici of St. Columba Roman Catholic Church, Mother Deborah Lee of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Erin Moore of the First Presbyterian Church of Chester.

"Drive away any hate-filled sentiments or urges of vengeance that goad us to return evil for evil," said the Rev. Moore. "Rather, let this day of remembrance encourage us to actions of kindness, words of love, and demonstrations of community. As we remember the actions of helpers that day — firefighters, police officers, pastors, office workers, ordinary citizens, along with the final voicemails many received of 'I love you' and 'You are everything to me,' remind us that love always does have the final word, and sometimes love speaks louder than words — and that we should never wait to share this love. And so we ask that this love, your love, be shared here today as we gather for this service of remembrance and in the many days and months to come. In your holy name we pray. Amen."

A fire department bell tolled to remember the dead, not only those who died at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and on Flight 93, but also those who sickened and died from exposure to toxins when working at Ground Zero afterward.

Chester community residents who died in the World Trade Center attack include:

Lynne Morris, 22, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald

Thomas Dowd, 37, who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald

Thomas Holohan Jr., 36, firefighter

Paul Ruback, 50, firefighter

Donald Tuzio, who worked at Bear Sterns

“It’s a day that we all need to remember forever, even though some have forgot,” said Phil Stanbro. “But it’s a blessing that everybody gave up their time and their life (to be here). We need to remember.”

He commented on the size of the crowd.

“It’s appropriate for the cause," Stanbro said.

Bruce and Susan Green’s daughter Shayne was working at the World Trade Center at the time, and they were unable to contact her once phone service stopped. Susan described the day as “horrible, horrible.” But luck was on their side. Shayne was out on a job when the plane hit her building.

Afterward, as is usual after the Chester ceremony, many lingered in small groups, comforted by their connection to others in the community, which keeps the memory of those lost very close to their hearts.

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