The honor guard’s three-volley salute broke the silence of a windy morning. A train horn sounded, accompanying bagpiper Ed Harrison’s rendition of Amazing Grace. Kent first responders, veterans and citizens looked up at the fluttering American flag suspended between fire trucks.
At Saturday morning’s memorial ceremony on the West Main Street bridge, the Kent community remembered the anniversary of 9/11.
Attendees bowed their heads at 8:46 a.m., pausing for a moment of prayer and silence exactly twenty years after the first plane struck the North Tower.
Community leaders gave speeches highlighting the first responders’ sacrifices to save victims. Kent Police Chief Nicholas Shearer paid tribute to the “selfless, heroic actions of those who fought back against evil.”
Fire Chief William Myers and Police Chief Nicholas Shearer organized the event as a collaboration between their departments.
"There was a real sense of generosity in the community,” Myers said as he recalled the reaction in Kent following Sept. September 11, 2001. “There was a sense of support."
Each person gathered there recalled their reaction the exact moment they heard the news. Many spoke of their reluctance to believe the crashes were intentional until the second plane hit.
"Even if I had heard that a plane had hit the Trade Center, I probably still would've assumed it was a small plane — and certainly that it was an accident," said a retired Airman who went back into service after the attacks.
Speeches during the event touched on the importance of passing on the story of this shocking event to the next generation.
Many of Kent State University's students are part of a generation that is too young to remember that Tuesday in September. Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala urged the community to "remember the bravery, the courage, the humanity shown in that day and the days to follow."
Sophie Young is a reporter. Contact her at email@example.com.