On Monday, the sun shone brightly as Delaware County officials observed the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, just as it did that fateful day 22 years ago.
The Delco remembrance featured a color guard, bagpipes, speeches and wreaths at the memorial in Rose Tree Park.
District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer connected the 9/11 attack on America to current events, while praising the bravery of the first responders who ran toward danger in 2001.
“It was a stark reminder that there are people in this world who hate us simply because of what we believe,” said Stollsteimer. “There is truly evil that exists in this world.”
It was a shocking event, the DA said, because, after the fall of the Soviet Union, people thought the world would come together.
“The threat to our freedom, the threat to our way of life, is only being re-invigorated as we speak. There are nations now in this world who hate how we live, who hate who we are and hate the freedom we all espouse,” he said.
“You can see that in the rise of China,” said Stollsteimer. “You can see that today when the leader of North Korea is meeting with the thug who runs Russia, Vladimir Putin, to give him more weapons to kill people in Ukraine.”
“Ukraine’s fight today is our fight,” said Stollsteimer, who noted his mother’s family immigrated from Soviet Ukraine after being held in a Nazi slave labor camp during World War II. “Because we have to stand together with everyone who believes in freedom because this is going to be the fight of the 21st Century.”
“In the DNA of every Ukrainian is the thirst for freedom,” he said. “The Russians have been trying for 300 years to stamp out Ukrainian culture, and they have failed, and they are going to continue to fail. What you’re seeing today, ladies and gentlemen, is Ukraine’s finest hour.”
“How many times do our military leaders have to tell us that China is arming for a war before we take it seriously?” asked Stollsteimer. “How many times do we have to hear our leaders tell us that they have heard from Russian and Chinese leaders themselves that they believe American Democracy is going to fail in the 21st Century and that the era of the autocrats is just beginning.”
“Those of us who lived through 9/11 and remember what it was all about, it was about average citizens, men and women who serve every day as first responders, doing everything they could because they believe in what this country is all about,” said Stollsteimer. “We know what freedom brings. We have to be ready to fight for it.”
“As I reflect on this day, I’m reminded of the story of an Army lieutenant who, five days before that vicious, villainous attack on our nation, was actually in the Pentagon,” said Col. Arthur L. Jenkins Jr., director of Veterans and Military Affairs for Delaware County. “And he reflected upon the fact, a mere five days later, he could have been in the Pentagon at that time when the plane hit…That Army lieutenant was me.”
“I’m very grateful to be with all of you today. For me, as I reflect on that cathartic moment, it was a defining moment. It was whether that defining moment would overwhelm me in a morass of dark feelings and emotions or could I take that defining moment and use it as a motivating force?”
Council Vice President Elaine Schaefer said they were paying tribute to national heroes and the county’s first responders.
“We will never forget that tragic day when almost 3,000 men, women and children were taken from us in a cruel and violent terrorist attack on our land,” said Schaefer. They share their sympathies with those who lost a loved one that day. She called 9/11 “horrifying and surreal.”
“That day, first responders ran into a burning and crumbling building without a second thought,” she said. “While most of us run from danger, they bravely ran into it. While it’s painful to remember, we must keep the memory alive for generations to come…to keep the legacy of these heroes alive.”
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) said, “When I think back to that day, I instantly remember how our community and our nation came together in the face of that tragedy. Yes, we remember the horror. Yes, we remember the awe as first responders ran and ordinary Americans raced into the breach to help protect their neighbors. The urge to connect with neighbors and friends was strong…That evening, we found comfort in an inter-faith service that had been quickly arranged by our community leaders.”
Scanlon said she’s sponsored and passed legislation so that the victims of 9/11 have medical support and compensation they need.
“We must always put our shared commitment to our national security, to ensuring our preparedness, our responsiveness and our recovery capabilities, to put all of that above petty politics,” said Scanlon.
Echoing Schaefer, Scanlon said that people who remember what happened on 9/11 need to teach the younger generation about it.