Driving by the Evesham Fire-Rescue Station on Main Street, it’s hard not to be reminded of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. Since 2014, a prominent, 13-foot steel beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York has stood displayed as the centerpiece of a memorial outside of the firehouse, serving as a constant reminder of the lives lost and sacrifices made on that fateful day.
This year, Evesham Fire-Rescue hosted its first official public remembrance ceremony next to the memorial on the morning of the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. As the ceremony commenced, thoughts turned to the nearly 3,000 lives lost on that day, lives represented by the memorial’s 2,977 individual stars embedded in its walkway.
One of those lives, that of resident LeRoy Homer, received special recognition during the ceremony. Homer was the co-pilot of the hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93, which he helped crash into a field before it could reach its intended target in the U.S. Capitol.
“Today we honor his sacrifice, and the other 37 passengers aboard Flight 93. It was their sacrifice and bravery certainly that thwarted another large-scale attack on our nation,” said Evesham firefighter Bryce Priggemeier.
One of the first to speak after a welcoming and opening remarks were delivered by Evesham Fire-Rescue Chief Carl Bittenbender was Mayor Jaclyn Veasy, who reminded everyone in attendance how we came together as a nation in the wake of tragedy.
“In one of our darkest moments, we as a nation summoned strength and courage, and out of horrible devastation emerged the best of our humanity. On this solemn anniversary we pause in remembrance, in reflection and once again in unity,” said Veasy. “The pain inflicted on our nation on September 11 was felt by people of every race, background and faith.”
Bittenbender was glad to open the doors of the station and provide the community with an opportunity to come together and reflect on everyone affected by the events of 9-11. He also expressed his hope that through remembrance ceremonies like this one, the next generation will remember those people as well.
“People from all walks of life, all careers, some were directly affected, some were impacted years later. There’s a generation who was not born yet on that day, so to be able to come together and reflect collectively so that we can ensure future generations don’t forget is important,” said Bittenbender.
Councilman Bob DiEnna was the project manager for the building of the memorial outside of the station just a few years ago. He made certain the project was a community effort and enlisted the help of several local builders and businesses in its construction.
Although he was not a featured speaker at the ceremony, DiEnna privately expressed his sole regret over the memorial project.
“The folks that this honors, unfortunately, will never see it. But the folks that do see it will never forget,” said DiEnna.