Park City marks Sept. 11 anniversary with a poignant ceremony

Emergency responders, civilians gather to remember the horrors, heroism

Park City emergency responders on Monday marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks with a ceremony outside the Park Avenue police station. The event was heavy on protocol and resembled commemorations held on previous anniversaries. | David Jackson/Park Record
David Jackson/Park Record

Ira Hammerman early in the morning on Sept. 11, 2001, flew from Washington, D.C., to New York City, landed and went to a meeting in a building in lower Manhattan, a quarter of a mile from the World Trade Center.

He worked in the financial industry and was with a client on the 23rd floor of a building overlooking the Statue of Liberty when a loud noise passed.

“We heard what sounded like a sonic boom. There was a lot of confusion about what happened,” Hammerman said in an interview Monday morning as Park City marked the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Hammerman, who now lives in Park Meadows, was part of a small crowd outside the Park Avenue police station to honor the date. The short ceremony drew emergency responders from area agencies and a scattering of members of the public. The Park City Police Department, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, the Park City Fire District and the Utah Highway Patrol were among the agencies represented on Monday.

Hammerman was one of just a few people at the event who was in New York City on the day of the attacks. He recalled walking up the West Side Highway with his jacket pressed against his mouth and nose to protect him from the soot and ash that were falling.

As he was walking on the West Side Highway, he heard a whistle used by his father to round up the family while he was growing up. He saw that it was his father who whistled and they reunited amid the chaos. He also found his Merrill Lynch co-workers. Hammerman would later learn one of his friends from college was killed on the plane that struck the Pentagon.

“What I saw, and will never forget, is the implosion of the second tower,” he said.

He said he continues to tell of his experiences on Sept. 11 to ensure the attacks are understood as time passes. Witness experiences better portray the day than history books, he said. Hammerman described Sept. 11 as the “single most impactful” event of the second half of his life.

“Never forgetting,” he said.

He said he attended to also thank the first responders who serve the Park City area.

The event was heavy on protocol and resembled previous commemorations on the anniversary, as law enforcement and the other emergency responders gathered on a spectacular fall morning. A dispatcher broadcast a short message about the day, a moment of silence was held in honor of the victims, and the American flag was raised and then lowered to half-staff. There was a salute by a rifle guard, taps was played and a police lieutenant, Vaifoa Lealaitafea, sang the national anthem. 

In his remarks, Police Chief Wade Carpenter referred to Sept. 11 as a “horrific event” and contrasted the events that day with another fateful moment in American history, the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that brought the nation into World War II.

“I believe it’s a day we’ll never forget,” he said about Sept. 11.

Carpenter honored the heroism of those aboard United Airlines Flight 93, who fought the hijackers on Sept. 11 before the plane crashed in Pennsylvania without reaching the intended target.

Park City has marked the Sept. 11 anniversary over the years with commemorations that have varied in size but carried the same messages. The event in 2021, on the 20th anniversary, was especially notable and included a procession of emergency responders that moved from the police station to City Park.

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