Park City marks Sept. 11 with poignant ceremony
September 12, 2016
Park City marked the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on Sunday morning with a solemn ceremony that honored those killed and reaffirmed the heroism of first responders, a commemoration that drew heavily on moving remarks by the police and firefighters.
The ceremony, held under a brilliant blue sky, combined protocol and emotions as the firefighters and police officers led a crowd of approximately 50 people outside Miners Hospital through the horrors of the day and then the resilient response of emergency personnel who rushed to the scenes.
The procession of Park City Police Department and Park City Fire District vehicles slowly moved southbound on Park Avenue from the police station to Miners Hospital. A bagpiper walked the route, in essence announcing the ceremony with the steady sound of the pipes. An honor guard of police officers and firefighters carried an unfolded American flag to the Miners Hospital, eventually ceremoniously folding the stars and stripes when they arrived. The grass outside the historic building was decorated for the event with small markers honoring the losses on Sept. 11.
The Fire District sounded a bell nine times – three repetitions of three – to mark the day. "Amazing Grace" was performed on the bagpipes and a company of five riflemen saluted the fallen. Small memorials to the firefighters and police officers who died complemented the scene. The memorials included parts of the uniforms worn by the first responders, including a firefighter's helmet and a police utility belt.
At one especially moving moment, the voice of a police dispatcher was broadcast through the public-address system.
"Last call for World Trade Center first responders," the dispatcher said.
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Wade Carpenter, the chief of police in Park City, told the audience Sept. 11 impacted so many lives and that the sacrifices that day will not be forgotten.
"Our faith has not been shaken," Carpenter said.
Some in the crowd were sobbing toward the end of the ceremony.
Sam Coleman, a Silver Creek resident who spent 22 years with the Fire District in Park City ending in 2004, said he attended primarily to honor the firefighters who were killed on Sept. 11. He wore a Fire District T-shirt and a New York City Fire Department hat.
"It's the least we can do . . . to keep their names alive," Coleman said, acknowledging that the world has changed over the past 15 years as a result of the terrorist attacks.
Eric Hales, a Park City Fire District battalion chief, wore his dress uniform with a black ribbon over his badge on Sunday. He said he watched as people stood at attention along the route to Miners Hospital.
"It really kind of showed what it means to be an American," Hales said in an interview.
In his remarks to the crowd, Hales offered a quote from President Reagan about the Challenger space shuttle disaster and quoted the New Testament.
Leslie Welker, a Park City police officer who helped organize the commemoration, said she was pleased Parkites joined the procession on Sunday and then attended the ceremony outside Miners Hospital.
"Not just police, not just fire . . . It attacked all of us," Welker said.
Welker said Sept. 11 was an attack on American "beliefs and way of life."
"I think we were attacked for what America does right, and they don't like that," Welker said.
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