ELYRIA — The 2,977 victims of the 9/11 attacks were remembered Wednesday in a candlelight vigil at Ely Square.
The theme of the third annual tribute was never forgetting the attacks on the Pentagon, World Trade Center and the downing of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., 12 years ago. The event included a video tribute that showed the crumbling Twin Towers, burning Pentagon and the Flight 93 wreckage.
“When you first saw it, you couldn’t believe it. You just kind of watched it over and over,” said tribute co-organizer Bobbi Sears. “No matter how many times you watch it, it still hurts. So you don’t want to forget.”
The vigil included speeches by Mayor Holly Brinda and the Rev. Carmen Muoio, former pastor of the Abbe Road Baptist Church in Elyria. Brinda saluted the soldiers who have fought in the Afghanistan War and Iraq War since the attacks. A total of 4,410 soldiers were killed in Iraq and 2,136 had been killed in Afghanistan through Tuesday, according to the Department of Defense.
“We’re a nation of sacrifice, but also one of deep bonds and tremendous resilience,” Brinda said. “Nothing can break our will in a truly United States of America.”
Muoio praised Christianity, capitalism and American exceptionalism in his remarks. He linked the attacks to a lack of belief in Christianity.
“It’s dangerous when people or nations forget God,” he said.
Among the approximately 100 people at the vigil was Elyria resident Jymmie Wetherbee, who brought his 5-year-old son, AmiRey. Wetherbee, who was attending his first vigil, said it was nice that Elyria could show its support through the ceremony.
Wetherbee, who served in the U.S. Navy from 2001-06 and was discharged as a Petty Officer second class, said he feels strongly about the attacks and the aftermath. Wetherbee said he has cousins who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Both survived, but Wetherbee said they returned traumatized.
“They’re not the same,” he said.
Wetherbee said he was pleased about the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in 2011 and hopes there will be a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by 2014. The 9/11 attacks sparked the invasion of Afghanistan — where bin Laden was living and some of the 9/11 hijackers trained — less than a month after the attacks.
There are about 63,000 American soldiers in Afghanistan with the number scheduled to drop to 34,000 in February, the New York Times reported in June. Most are scheduled to be withdrawn by the end of 2014.
Despite the scheduled withdrawal, vigil co-organizer Heather Sorg said Americans can’t let their guard down.
Sorg, a U.S. Air Force Reserve Airman 2nd Class, said Americans live in an age of terrorism.
Sorg said the World Trade Center was originally bombed in 1993 killing six.
“We always should be vigilant, but here in the United States, civilians aren’t as vigilant as they should be,” Sorg said.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.