ELYRIA — The victims of 9/11 and the spirit of solidarity immediately after the attacks were recalled in a Tuesday tribute at Ely Square.
“We have to love one another on this tragic day,” singer Tommie Harris told the approximately 150 participants. “And encourage one another.”
Mayor Holly Brinda told the audience the attacks on the Pentagon, World Trade Center and the forced crash of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., give Americans a better understanding of the suffering endured by people in war-torn nations around the world.
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“We will continue to display the patriotism, resilience, strength and compassion that defines us as Americans,” she said.
Beside brief speeches, the event included live and recorded music, video footage of the attacks and a candle lighting ceremony.
Husband and wife Bobby and Patti Meyer of Elyria held hands and swayed back and forth during Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”
Patti Meyer said Americans have become more cooperative since the attacks, and the nation is safer.
“Our heads aren’t in the sand anymore,” she said. “We’ve seen the worst that can happen. Hopefully, we never see anything like it again.”
Bobby Meyer, an Air Force veteran who served in the Vietnam War in 1970 and 1971, said he supports the military. However, Meyer said the U.S. should withdraw the approximately 84,000 soldiers from the Afghanistan War, which began in response to 9/11 and has killed nearly 2,000 Americans and thousands of Afghans. The war, which began Oct. 7, 2001, has cost nearly $571 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The couple said the money would be better spent domestically on things like rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
“There’s always going to be something (terrorism) that happens. That’s just the nature of the beast, but I think we need to take care of America first,” Bobby Meyer said. “There’s just so many problems that we have here.”
However, participant Gina Gordon of Elyria said some American soldiers may need to remain in Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal scheduled by President Barack Obama.
“I know a lot of people feel that we don’t need to be over there, but if nobody else is going to protect us, we need to do it ourselves,” she said.
Gordon, an Army veteran, said 9/11 is particularly significant to her because of her military service and because her daughter is training to be a police officer. Twenty-three New York Police Department officers and 37 Port Authority officers were among the 2,977 victims of the attacks.
Gordon said she was grateful for the tribute, organized by Bobbi Sears and Heather Sorg, who said they’d originally planned to do it every five years. “I think we’re going to be here every year now,” Sears said to applause. “So we’ll never forget.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or email@example.com.