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September 13, 2011 8:08 am

Powell remembers Sept. 11, 2011

Written by Gib Mathers

Emma Jones, 2, (left) and her sister, Haleigh Jones, 6, stand behind their dad, Park County Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Jones, as heads bow at the conclusion of the 9/11 commemoration in Powell. About 150 people attended the ceremony at the Powell Fire Hall on Sunday. Emma Jones, 2, (left) and her sister, Haleigh Jones, 6, stand behind their dad, Park County Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Jones, as heads bow at the conclusion of the 9/11 commemoration in Powell. About 150 people attended the ceremony at the Powell Fire Hall on Sunday. Tribune photo by Ilene Olson

It was a solemn occasion, but the 150 folks who attended the Sept. 11 commemoration Sunday afternoon at the Powell Fire Department took heart in the speakers’ poignant words and the fellowship shared with friends and neighbors.

The commemoration honored veterans, first responders and those who lost their lives following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and in the war against terror that followed.

“The events of 9/11 can never be forgotten,” said American Legion Post 26 Cmdr. Ron Miller. “I’d like to thank all the vets today for serving their country.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, 2,753 people died. That included 343 firefighters, 60 police and eight EMTs, said Rep. Dave Bonner, R-Powell, who served as master of ceremonies.

Too many of our best have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 — “Thirty-seven Wyoming sons,” Bonner said. “We honor them all.”

Also honored were Roger Beslanowitch of Roger’s Meat Processing and Bonny Rouse and Ann Ruward for their ongoing support for active-duty service members from Powell.

More than 17,954 packages of beef jerky have been sent to local troops serving far from home since 9/11, thanks to Beslanowitch preparing the beef, and Powell Troop Support organizers Rouse and Ruward, who mail packages to local troops each month.

“We couldn’t do it without the community,” Ruward said.

Brad Logan got the ceremony underway with “Amazing Grace” on his bagpipes. The reedy sound was sorrowful, yet pledged hope for all our heros in the hereafter — emergency responders, soldiers and civilians alike.

Three Buffalo Bill Young Marines posted the colors. Aaron Horner, Max Wilk and Joshua Malone marched forward with Old Glory and turned with military precision to face the crowd. All eyes were fastened on the flag.

Caroline Kost sang the “National Anthem,” her voice rising over the wind with the strength of patriotism.

“The Pledge of Allegiance” followed.

Marine and American Legion Chaplain Joe Mooney conducted the invocation.

Allen Cooper performed a song he wrote for the occasion. “Thank you for our freedom,” he sang to disabled veterans.

There are 55,000 veterans in Wyoming. Park County has the distinction of having the sixth highest vet count in the state, said Rep. Dave Bonner, R-Powell, the master of ceremonies.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5054 Cmdr. Don Meschke paid tribute to EMTs, firefighters, police, Boy Scouts and military personnel. “I salute your service,” Meschke said.

Powell Fire Department Chief Joey Darrah and his daughter, Josie, each recited a poem about the events of 9/11, bringing tears to the eyes of many in the audience.

Jim Cannon, public relations director at Powell Valley Healthcare, provided commemorative pins honoring police, firefighters and EMTs for their steadfast devotion to those in dire need of help.

Powell Police Officer Kirk Chapman said he was working in Washington, D.C. when the towers were hit. Later, he was informed American Airlines flight 77 struck the Pentagon.

Chapman feared a friend was dead.

“When that plane hit, I tried to contact him,” Chapman said.

“It was a very difficult day,” he said, his voice breaking.

Second Lt. Cory Baker with firemen Jeremy Decker and DelRay Jones conducted the reenactment of the Raising of the Flag at Ground Zero. Unfurling the flag, the men attached it to a slanted pole. For just a moment, the firemen regarded their handiwork as gusty wind fluttered the Stars and Stripes and the crowd watched in proud reverence.

Volunteer firefighter Mick Hobbs rang a bell on a fire truck for the Striking of the Four Fives, in honor of all firefighters who died in the line of duty. The Laying of the Wreath followed.

Pat Miller, adjutant, American Legion Post 26, recognized America’s 11 major military conflicts and the Powell Veterans Honor Guard fired a salute.

Tom Bibbey played “Taps,” and Mooney prayed: “We will not forget.”

Kost and Logan performed “God Bless America,” and the crowd joined in the singing.

Never forget the victims that died on Sept. 11, said Mayor Scott Mangold, reading a city proclamation. “May they rest in peace and abide in all of our memories.”

Memories of 9/11

Powell students from all grades wrote about their memories following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and their recollections are on display in the Powell Fire Hall during the 9/11 commemoration.

Letters from Parkside Elementary and Powell High School students posted at the Powell Fire Department reiterated the theme page after page: “Thank you for keeping us safe.”

Here is Tiana Killinger’s account of her perceptions on that terrible day:

“I remember 9/11 very clearly. It was the beginning of my second grade school year at Byron Elementary in Tualatin, Ore. I remember walking home normally like I always did, eager to get home before my mother had to go off to work.

“When I got home, the house was eerily quiet: the only sound was the news and my mother crying softly. I walked to her to find her sitting on the bed, her hands placed over her mouth and nose, crying.

I remember her  looking at me with bloodshot eyes and rushing over to hug me. She picked me up and put me in the car saying that we were going to my grandmother’s house and I was going to stay there for a couple days.

“When we got to my grandparents’, they seemed still like the world had stopped. I remember my mom saying that my dad might leave us to go fight in a war. When she left, the house seemed empty and lifeless.

“I remember looking out the window and just wondering what in the world was happening. It was the first time I swear Portland was completely silent. I wanted to know what happened, but all my grandparents told me was I would know when I was older.

“As I watched the TV, I saw the Twin Towers (though I didn’t know what that was during that moment) crumbling and then disappearing in a large cloud of black smoke. I watched people jump out of 10 story building and catch on fire, people get crushed, and I watched many people die.

“I cried and asked my grandpa why he was watching such a sad movie. He cried and put me on his lap, but he never answered my question.

“I, now, know why...”

Tiana Killinger

Senior, Powell High School

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