22 September 2016
Patriot Day 2016 in Frederick
Lanessa Hill, USAG Public Affairs

A U.S. flag flies in downtown Frederick as part of the Patriot Day ceremony, Sept 9. Photo by Lanessa Hill, USAG Public Affairs
It’s been 15 years since the worst attack on American soil, which killed 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia took place. But in Frederick, the passage of time has not erased the resolve of people here to remember the victims, heroes and lessons of Sept. 11, 2001.

A Patriot Day tribute was held in Frederick, Maryland, where local firefighters, police, Fort Detrick military leaders and members of the public took part. The City of Frederick, Frederick county government and Fort Detrick jointly sponsored the observance held at Winchester Hall, followed by patriotic songs by the Frederick Catoctones, a local barbershop quartet and the city-wide ringing of church bells.

During her remarks, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner talked of three Frederick County residents who died in the 2001 attacks.
“The events of 9-11 took the lives of three Frederick County residents, they were people who had done no worse than go to work, board a plane, or try to help imperiled strangers,” said Gardner.
Alan Patrick Linton was 26 when he was killed at the World Trade Center. William R. Ruth, 57, and Ronald J. Vauk, 37, died on the job at the Pentagon.

During his invocation, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Jeffries, from the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick, asked that people see, as he called it, the good that came from evil on that day.
“Men and women joined our Nation’s military, police and fire departments ... Just one day sparked a call in many people’s lives to serve. They saw not only the tragedy of that day, but the opportunity to demonstrate and dedicate themselves to the values of freedom and liberty,” said Jeffries.

Stories told at the event provided searing recollections of a day that no American will ever forget, even if crowds at memorial events dwindle as years pass. Speakers reflected on lives lost or changed forever by the terror attacks on that day, as well as outcomes an enemy did not foresee.

“What the terrorists did not realize is that Americans pull together in a time of crisis, with pride and patriotism, determination and resilience,” said Maj. Gen. Barbara R. Holcomb, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and Fort Detrick. “On that day, and in the weeks and months that followed, our country was united through patriotism. There’s no doubt,” she said, “that the horrific acts of a few were surpassed by the heroic acts of the many.”

“As Americans, it’s our duty to help other Americans in their time of need,” said Gardner. She cited the example of a flight attendant calling from a doomed flight. “To hear a stewardess calling from one of the planes, telling people what was happening to protect others before she died. Like others, she rose to the challenge that day,” Gardner said,” to do something she never imagined... fulfilling a patriotic duty.”

Members of the community who attended the event also had personal stories. John Castagna who came all the way to Frederick from Belcamp, Maryland, held tickets for himself and his wife on American Airlines Flight 77, the hijacked jet that crashed into the Pentagon.

“Miles away from the Pentagon at the school where she taught, my wife and her students were outside, playing and all looked up at an enormous boom sound. Odd. It was clear and sunny. Then she heard crying inside the school. Teachers had spouses inside the Pentagon. Later, we found that one’s husband was badly burned but survived. From my office window in Alexandria, I could see thick black smoke. Back home, we realized that was our flight, the exact flight for our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii. We’d cancelled a week before because of work obligations. It still makes us shiver.”

In concluding remarks, Chief of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Clarence Jewel, III said, “We honor those who made the supreme sacrifice and we salute those in uniformed service who stand as guardians today in our local community and throughout the world.”
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