Kettering commemorates the twentieth anniversary of 9-11


Never Forget wreath at the Kettering 9-11 twentieth anniversary ceremony - Todd Elzey

Kettering, Ohio-On September 11, 2021, the Kettering community came together to recognize the twentieth anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The ceremony honored all those who were victims of the attacks, including the fire and police first responders who risked their lives and died to save others on September 11, 2001. The ceremony was held at Kettering’s 9-11 memorial at Seitz Plaza on the Northwest corner of Lincoln Park and Ackerman Boulevard.

Kettering Ohio Fire Department honor guard - Todd Elzey

The ceremony opened with the presentation of colors by the Kettering Fire Department honor guard accompanied by the playing of the National Anthem.

The ceremony featured several speakers and events. The first speaker was Kettering Police Chaplain Josiah Kagin. Kagin is also the Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Kettering. Kagin recalled how he learned of the attacks as a seventeen-year-old at school. He reminded residents that we should never forget that we as Americans have enemies who want our destruction. 

Josiah Kegin, Kettering Ohio Police Department Chaplain - Todd Elzey

Kagin also wanted residents to never forget that we have heroes who were “driven by love and duty” on 9-11 to rescue those who were in harm's way. He spoke about how the emergency response on 9-11 was the largest law enforcement and fire response in U.S. history. He also spoke about how 412 of 2977 deaths on 9-11 were first responders. Kagin also talked about other heroes of 9-11 specifically citing the heroics of Todd Beamer and fellow passengers on United Flight 93, who rushed the terrorists controlling the plane and preventing it from hitting its target in Washington D.C. Kagin said, “These are the heroes of 9-11, these are the heroes we must never forget”.

Kagin spoke of gathering to remember and honor all the victims and rescuers of 9-11. Kagin also led the attendees in a prayer remembering “the 2977 soles who died on 9-11 at the hands of our enemies”. Kagin prayed that God would ensure that we never forget those that died or the first responders who rushed in as others rushed out. Kagin concluded his introduction and invocation by asking everyone to join in a moment of silence that coincided with the moment that the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York on 9-11.

Doug Cope, Commander of Ohio Task Force One, which was a search and rescue team that responded on 9-11, followed Kagin. In addition to commanding Ohio Task Force One, Cope was a longtime member of the Xenia Ohio Fire Department. Cope was the event’s “Remembrance Speaker”.

Doug Cope, Commander Ohio Task Force One - Todd Elzey

Cope worked search and rescue operations at the World Trade Center for 9 days. He spoke of how on September 11, 2001, the New York City Fire Department (NYFD) lost 343 firefighters, and how NYFD has lost an additional 250 firefighters because of the health impacts of 9-11. Cope also mentioned how the New York City Police Department lost 23 officers on 9-11 and have since lost an additional 241 officers because of health issues associated with 9-11. Cope also mentioned that the New York Port Authority Police lost 37 officers on 9-11 and an additional 13 officers since 9-11. Cope pointed out that when you add in the civilian casualties caused by post-traumatic stress, cancer, and breathing problems caused by 9-11, the 2977 9-11 death toll has more than doubled.

Cope said he is often asked about what he remembers from his 9-11 experience. He said that “we lived in a vacuum during that time”. He said all they knew during those 9 days were the rescue operations. He lost track of what was going on in the world and recalled having to go back through news broadcasts to catch up once he got back home. Cope also spoke of, despite suffering the largest attack on the U.S. since Pearl Harbor, how supportive New York residents were of first responders working the rescue. He recalled seeing residents lined up on streets 5 and 6 deep to support rescuers as they traveled to and from the site. Cope also recalled how many residents would offer them food and drink to try and help them out.

Cope also cautioned, now that we are 20 years removed from the attack, more and more younger Americans will not have any recollection of the event. He used his 23-year-old son as an example. Cope said that his son was only three on the day of the 9-11 attacks and that he only has a vague recollection of Cope leaving the house to travel. Cope spoke of how the only thing many younger people will know about the 9-11 attacks will be what they hear from parents, teachers, and others old enough to remember the events of 9-11. He even referenced how he has seen some history books that only have a couple of paragraphs about the events of 9-11. Cope said that we as a nation cannot let that continue. He said that we must never forget the events of 9-11 and must never let that type of event happen again.

Cope acknowledged that the death toll from 9-11 would continue to rise as he believed the health impacts of the event will eventually touch everyone who was there. Cope concluded his presentation by saying that he wants back the United States of America on the morning of September 12, 2001. Cope said he wanted that America back because we were united together, we were all proud to be American, and we were Americans first and friends with everyone regardless of our differences

Following Cope’s speech, there was a moment of silence to recognize the time that the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Kettering first responders and Kettering Mayor Patterson also held a wreath-laying ceremony where two wreaths and flowers were laid at the base of the 9-11 memorial.

Kettering Ohio 9-11 Memorial sun dial - Todd Elzey

Patterson also gave a short presentation. Patterson thanked everyone for attending and thanked everyone who worked to put together the ceremony. Patterson spoke of how the community had never forgotten those who were lost on 9-11.

Patterson told attendees that the Kettering 9-11 Memorial was commissioned in 2002 and was created by artist John Van Alstine. The Mayor described the memorial as a 26,600-pound sculpture that is a solar calendar. Patterson said that the solar calendar allows the solar noon sun to line up with the stylus on the monument each year on September 11th. Patterson referenced how the 9-11 Memorial is a landmark to demonstrate the community’s continued sadness for the lives lost on 9-11. Patterson also said that the monument shows the community’s gratitude for the first responder heroes of 9-11. Patterson concluded by saying “today our hearts are with the victims and their families.”

Patterson was followed by a “Striking the Fives” bell ceremony. The “Striking the Fives” bell ceremony dates back to the NYFD in 1865 and is used to signal the death of a firefighter. The ceremony consists of 4 series of ringing a bell five times. The Kettering Fire Department performed the “Striking the Fives” bell ceremony to honor the firefighters lost because of 9-11.

"Striking the Fives" bell ceremony - Todd Elzey

The Kettering Fire Department also conducted a “Last Alarm” ceremony. The ceremony was a radio transmission that stated “Signal 555 has been transmitted. All units stand by for a Departmental message. The Department regrets to announce the deaths of 344 firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers, 55 military members, and 2507 civilians killed 20 years ago today, September 11, 2001, due to the terror attacks on New York, Washington D.C., and Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. Our country is grateful for your service and deeply mourns the loss of your lives. These souls are now guardians. May they watch over their loved ones until they meet again. Signal 555”.

Kettering Ohio Police Department honor guard rifle volley ceremony - Todd Elzey

The “Last Alarm” ceremony was followed by a rifle volley by the Kettering Police Department honor guard, playing of Taps by a Kettering Fire Department bugler, and playing of Amazing Grace by bagpipers.

Kettering firefighter playing Taps - Todd Elzey
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